CUTTACK: The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birthplace Museum here has been put out of bounds for visitors at a time when demands for declassification of files relating to mysterious disappearance of Netaji have fuelled renewed interest among people to know more about the legendary figure.
For around five days, Netaji’s birthplace has become inaccessible to the public, thanks to closure of the main entry from Dargha Bazaar. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-assisted Integrated Sanitation Project work has sealed off the Heritage Portal, cutting off the main entry route to the museum.
With the Odia Bazaar entry gate not conducive enough for visitors and no information given out on alternative approach ways, it has massively affected the museum. The birthplace museum, which is not only a comprehensive repository of information on the life of Netaji but also contains rare unique items connected to the greatest son of the soil, was beginning to experience substantial increase in footfall in recent days.
From an average daily attendance of around 100 visitors and tourists prior to the heightened debate over the declassification of files on his disappearance, the number has gone beyond 150 in the last fortnight. People are keen to know more about Netaji, who was born and spent his childhood years here in the Millennium City.
The museum has 12 galleries depicting every aspect of Netaji’s life from birth, childhood, education, political and prison to INA. It has over 1,000 exhibits ranging from personal items, rare letters, manuscripts and documents from different stages of his life.
But the number has dropped to the minimum. On Wednesday, there were only around 40 visitors by late afternoon. “I took my family, who were keen to learn about Netaji, to his birthplace museum but had to return after finding the entry sealed. There was no information nor any signage about any alternative path to the monument,” rued Rupesh Kumar Das of Cuttack.
The problems of visitors from far off places, including those from outside the State and international tourists, can be well imagined. While the museum receives around 10-15 foreign visitors per month, the number appeared to rise in recent days. With no proper approach path, the museum will not be able to capitalise on the increasing interest among people both domestic and foreign, the museum staff lamented.
The civic authorities, however, have sought to wash their hands of the issue stating it is the job of the executing agency and police to make alternative arrangements to ensure flow of traffic or access to establishments. It has to be done at least a week before commencement of work and duly notified with signages. But it has not been done in case of Netaji Museum though a temporary path has been opened.
“We will take up the matter with the authorities concerned and ensure corrective measures,” CMC Commissioner Gyana Das said.