Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Tuesday laid foundation stone of the proposed Odia University at Sakhigopal in Puri district. The proposed regional language university will impart education upto higher courses including MPhil and PhD in Odia language and will promote and propagate Odia language across the country. It will also facilitate research on different aspects of the language. Earlier, Odia language got the status of a "classical language" in the same league as Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. The varsity is being constructed at the same place where 'Panchasakha' had set up Bakula Bana Vidyalaya, the state's first model open school at Sakhigopal in 1909. The Panchasakha (five friends) comprised Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das, Krupasindhu Mishra, Harihar Das, Pandit Mishra and Nilakantha Das.
Before laying foundation stone for the Odia Varsity, Patnaik offered floral tribute to the Panchasakha and planted saplings at Bakula Bana. The Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das birth anniversary is celebrated on October 9. "I hope the proposed Odia University will bring back glory of the past when the people of Odisha excelled in every field. The Panchasakhas had created an awareness on the state's education, culture, its tradition and language," Patnaik said. The state government has proposed a budget of Rs 10 crore to be spent for establishment of the varsity. At least 25-acres of land have also been earmarked for the purpose. Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy, Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty and MP Pinaki Mishra attended the function.