Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday decided to set up a unique 'Heritage Cabinet' and an Odia Language Commission as part of its move to preserve the relics and monuments in the state and enrich its rich culture and language.
Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda said the 'Heritage Cabinet' would be headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. It would aim to protect ancient monuments, temples and archaeological sites in Odisha, and take steps to preserve the state's culture, language and literature.
The decision was taken at the meeting of the state cabinet, which was held for the first time in Puri, instead of Bhubaneswar.
Details about the Odia Language Commission would be disclosed later, he told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to bifurcate the tourism and culture department. The cultural wing would be renamed as Odia Language, Literature and Culture Department, he said.
The Odisha Official Language Act, 1954 will be soon amended and provisions made for punishment for violation of rules. In addition, there would be incentives for employees and departments for using Odia in official correspondence and file work, the minister said.
It would be made mandatory for all shops and business establishments in the state to display signboards in Odia language within a stipulated time, for which Odisha Shops and Commercial Establishment rules, 1956 would be amended.
There would be a provision for punishment in case of violation of this rule.
Panda said a World Odia Language Convention would be organised every five years and tuition fees would be waived for students pursuing Odia course at the graduation and post- graduation levels.
Scholarships, stipends and incentives would be provided to those securing high marks at the intermediate and graduation levels, he said.
Students would be encouraged to pursue research in Odia as per the UGC pattern and the number of PhD seats would be increased.
State level and district level book fairs would be organised every year, besides setting up "smart libraries" with Odia books in all district headquarters and high schools, the minister said.
Steps would be taken to facilitate translation of Odia literary works into other Indian languages and vice versa. All government functions in the state will be conducted in Odia language, he said.
Non-resident Odias would be given access to learn Odia, and replies to letters and complaints received from the public would be given in Odia language, Panda said.
Grants provided for the revival and popularisation of 'Bhagabat Tungis', which are small huts in the villages where religious texts are narrated to the people, would be doubled for their maintenance.
The cabinet meeting in Puri coincided with the 20th foundation day celebrations of the ruling BJD held in the seaside pligrim town.