Mrunal Manmay Dash

With just a few days left for the historic Bali Yatra in Cuttack, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Thursday targeted the Union government alleging delay tactics to accord National Maritime Heritage Festival status to the biggest open-air trade fair of Asia.

Addressing a press conference, BJD leader and Cuttack Mayor, Subash Singh said, “Prime Minister Modi is describing Bali Yatra in his foreign tours but never cared to provide it the appropriate status it deserves.”

The Union Culture Ministry had earlier made it clear that it was not the competent authority to accord such a status to Bali Yatra.

Asking questions, Singh further said, “Though Union Culture Ministry had replied to the Odisha government’s request on the same, it said it was not the competent authority to accord a heritage status to Bali Yatra. If not the Culture Ministry then who is the authority? This will be raised in the next Parliament Session,” Singh said.

Earlier in 2019, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel urging him to accord National Maritime Heritage Festival Status to Cuttack Bali Yatra festival.

“The Bali Yatra is an integral part of the cultural ethos of Odisha. It is deeply embedded in the collective consciousness of the Odia people. Hence, I would suggest you to kindly consider the social-cultural importance of "Bali Yatra" festival and accord it the status of a 'National Maritime Heritage Festival'. And, I am sure that would be a befitting tribute to our heritage and on the inspiration for our future,” the letter stated.

The historic eight-day fair, scheduled to start on November 27, will be held on an area spanning 129 acres on the banks of Mahanadi River in Cuttack.

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