Op-Ed: Odisha Must Showcase Its Best On Tourism Front

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Odisha BJP leaders have made a strong pitch for Puri Jagannath temple and the sun temple at Konark being included in the list of Centre’s iconic tourist sites. This was expected of them because like most other Odias they must have felt disappointed at none of the state monuments finding a place in the elite list that was announced by union finance minister, Niramala Sitharaman during her maiden budget speech.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal had sought to make an issue of it with chief minister, Naveen Patnaik last month writing to union tourism minister, Prahlad Singh Patel that at least two sites from the state should be made part of the list.

“Odisha houses a mesmerising array of tourism sites, from ancient to modern, and from manmade marvels to nature’s most captivating abodes, some of which are Konark Sun Temple, Chilika Lake, Bhitarkanika National Park, Simlipal National Park and Diamond Triangle Buddhist Circuit,” said the chief minister in his missive underscoring the importance of the state as a major tourist destination.

Now BJP MPs from the state have urged the minister specifically to include the 12th Jagannath temple in Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark, a 13th century architectural marvel, in the list and make budgetary provisions for their comprehensive development. Earlier, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had sought the intervention of the minister in the matter.

The moot question is why in the first place did any site or monument from Odisha fail to make the list? Was it a case of Centre’s indifferent attitude towards the state or was it our failure to market our tourism potential properly? The other relevant question to be asked is do we lack the necessary political clout to back our claims at the national level?

The Centre, we can be sure, will never accept the charge of neglect because it can have political repercussions. But the bitter truth is that over the years successive governments have side-stepped Odisha’s claims on many important issues. In most cases this happened because Odisha lacks the political clout that many other states in the country enjoy.

We all know the importance of lobbying these days and if that is what it takes to push the state’s case in Delhi the MPs from Odisha should unite and do their best. Fortunately the state also has two of its leaders in the union ministry and chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s equations with the NDA government are quite friendly at the moment.

At the same time it is also true that we have failed to showcase our tourism potential to the rest of the world. The state has wonderful ancient monuments including temples that represent the best traditions of architecture. Apart from a rich history we also boast of immense natural beauty visible in the form of great water bodies like Chilika and wildlife sanctuaries such as Bhitarkanika and Similipal. But we have failed to leverage our strengths. We should learn to make the most of what we have before cribbing about being ignored by others.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)