The Naveen Patnaik government has issued an ordinance to make use of Odia language mandatory in all official communication in the state.
“The state government is taking all steps for full implementation of the Odisha Official Language Act. The Ordinance has already come into effect,” Law Minister Arun Sahoo said.
He said the ordinance was promulgated as Odisha Official Language Act, 1954, did not have powers to frame rules. The Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, empowers the state to make rules, review and monitor whether the direction contained in sub-section 2 of Section 2 of the 1954 Act has been implemented.
Officials said Odisha Official Language Rules were in an advanced stage of formulation for better implementation of Odia in transaction of official business. Spoken by more than 3.5 crore people in the country, Odia has a 1500-year-long history and was given the sixth classical language status by the Centre in 2014.
The Odisha Official Languages Act was passed in 1954 by the Nabakrushna Choudhury government, but it was not enforced. Although the Official Language Act has already been implemented in all Hindi-speaking states, West Bengal, Haryana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it is yet to be implemented in Odisha.
According to the 1954 Act, Odia language and numerals have to be used for all official purposes. Besides, gazette notifications, all Bills, amendments, acts, ordinances, orders, rules and regulations issued by the state government or moved in the Assembly have to be in Odia.
Since April this year, members of Bhasha Andolan, an outfit demanding use of Odia in official communication has been holding black-flag protests in Bhubaneswar.