By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, December 26, 2017: Just ahead of 2019 general elections, the Naveen Patnaik government has began wooing the voters with several sops that includes formation of Odia Language Commission.

The first ever cabinet meeting held outside the state capital here at Puri on Tuesday also decided to form a separate Odia Language and Culture Department which is currently functioning with the Tourism Department, waving of course fee for Odia language studies at the College and University level, increasing PhD seats in Odia language under different universities in the state, as well as relaxation of norms under Vyasakabi Fakir Mohan Senapati Scholarship.

The meeting held at Circuit House in Puri was presided over by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

With an objective to make Odia signage mandatory, the Cabinet also gave a nod to form a new law by bringing necessary amendment in the Orissa Shops and Commercial Establishments Act (1956). The defaulters would be punishable under the new law. Similarly, a proposal for necessary amendment in the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 to reward officials using Odia language in all government works also got clearance during the meeting.

The cabinet also decided to form a separate Odia Language and Culture Department which is currently functioning with the Tourism Department, waving of course fee for Odia language studies at the College and University level, increasing PhD seats in Odia language under different universities in the state, as well as relaxation of norms under Vyasakabi Fakir Mohan Senapati Scholarship.

Patnaik who arrived in the holy town to attend the 20th Foundation Day celebration of BJD held at Talabania, began with a visit to Jagannath Temple, in the morning. After performing darshan of the deities Naveen expressed his happiness over the progress in Jagmohan repair work at the temple.