Bhubaneswar: The recent decision of the Ministry of Communications to close 31 Philatelic Bureaus all over the country has come as a shock to the philatelic community of Odisha. The Philatelic Bureaus at Cuttack and Sambalpur too have been notified to be shut from the 12th July according to a notification issued on the 8th July 2010. Philatelists all over the country are protesting this decision as it will be a body blow for stamp collectors. While India Post is promoting Philately thru various Exhibitions, Special Covers and Commemorative Stamps Issues and doling our Scholarships to budding philatelists, the closure of the Philatelic Bureaus will be counterproductive.
The Philatelic Bureau at Cuttack GPO is one of the oldest in the country, having been set up in 1948, soon after Independence. It also houses a Postal Museum, the first of its type to have been set up in the State. It is a heritage Bureaus among all the Bureaus in India. What is surprising is that the Bureau at Sambalpur was set up only in 2020, closing it within a few months is not understood.
According to Shanti Swarup Rath, the Secretary of the Eastern India Philatelists’ Association, this will be a body blow for stamp collectors. He has written to the authorities for reconsidering this hasty descision. Eminent philatelist Anil Dhir, who has also written four acclaimed books on Postal History, is of the opinion that this is an irrational decision of the authorities, taken in haste after the new minister took charge. He said that Philately is a dying hobby and needs all the impetus and support of the Postal department. Rather than opening more Bureaus to promote the hobby, closing the existing bureaus is not understood. Dhir further said that countries like China and Philippines have included Philately as a curriculum subject in Schools, which should also be adopted in India. India had one of the richest postal history and traditions, something which should be cherished and propagated.
Shakeel Ahmed, a senior philatelist of Cuttack is of the opinion that if they want to close non-productive bureaus, then the Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur bureaus may be closed, but the historic and heritage Cuttack Philatelic Bureau, which will soon celebrate its 75th Anniversary should not be closed.
It may be noted that Odisha has some of the prominent philatelists of the country. Exhibits from Odisha have been awarded medals in various national and international exhibitions and more than 20 books on philately have been written and published from the state. Kashinath Sahoo, another eminent philatelist said that recent death of the president of the EIPA, Bijayshree Routray was a big blow for the hobbyists, this decision is another setback.