By: Prashanta Mahanta
TEZPUR, July 31: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal presented Natasurya Phani Sarma Award for the year 2020 to renowned theatre artistes Aishwarya Kakati and Bhabesh Baruah at a function held at the historic Ban Theatre here on Friday. The award consists of a Sarai, a Commendation, a Man Bastra and a cheque of Rs. 2 lakh.
Speaking at the function organised by the cultural affairs department in association with Sonitpur district administration, Sonowal said that under infrastructure development project, a financial outlay of Rs. 1.5 crore has been earmarked for the preservation of the samadhikshetra of Natasurya Phani Sarma.
Sonowal also announced that state government would set up a museum in memory of the cultural doyens like Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Natasurya Phani Sarma and Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
Sonowal also said that state government has been steadfast in savouring the rich cultural heritage and inherent dignity of all the communities, tribes and sub-tribes of the state.
Terming that there cannot be any future sans our past’, Sonowal said that within three months after coming to power the present state government held ‘Sohodor’ to enable everybody belonging to different tribes, sub-tribes, castes and sub-castes to converge on the same platform.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on Atmanirbhar Bharat, Sonowal said that everybody will have to lend their hands in the government’s commitment to make Atmanirbhar Assam. Stating the intent radiated by popular singer Zubeen Garg in getting himself associated with agriculture, Sonowal said that it would augur well in motivating others in taking agriculture as their vocations to make the state self-reliant.
Speaking on the occasion minister of state for cultural affairs Naba Kumar Doley said that Assam government has taken adequate steps in giving due recognition to art and artistes across the state. He also said that for the renovation of the historic Ban Theatre, state government has adopted a project worth Rs. 2.20 crore. Moreover, a cultural university in Majuli along with a bouquet of other projects were taken by the government for the promotion of the rich and colourful culture of the state. Stating that the number of artiste pensioners were increased to 85, a one-time financial assistance of Rs. 50 thousand each was given to two thousand artistes.
The recipients of the award Aishwarya Kakati and Bhabesh Baruah also expressed their experiences on the occasion. Aishwarya Kakati said that the artistes produced food for the soul and their creations provide a source of peace and harmony to the humanity. Bhabesh Baruah while speaking on the occasion expressed his gratitude to some of the personalities who acted as a driving force to his life and art and he dedicated the award in the name of mobile theatre.
Organised adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols, the welcome address of the programme was given by the Director of Cultural affairs Bishnu Kamal Bora, MP Pallab Lochan Das, MLA Brindaban Goswami also spoke on the occasion. MLAs Padma Hazarika, Ashok Singhal, Ganesh Limbu, Promode Borthakur and Rupak Sharma, Sonitpur DC Manabendra Pratap Singh, eldest son of Natasurya Phani Sarma Ajit Sarma and a host of other dignitaries were present on the occasion.