George Orwell’s birthplace in Bihar now a protected siteBy IANS
Saturday, January 15, 2011
PATNA - After being neglected for decades, the birthplace of George Orwell, the legendary British author of cult classics like “Animal Farm” and “1984″, is set for renovation as the Bihar government has issued a notification declaring it as a protected site.
Motihari magistrate Narmadeshwar Lal told IANS over telephone that the government notification has made it clear that Orwell’s birthplace has been enlisted by the art and culture department for protection.
“The district administration has begun renovation work,” Lal said.
Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 at his ancestral home in Motihari district, near India’s border with Nepal. His father, Richard Blair, worked as an agent of the opium department of the Indian Civil Service during British rule.
The single-storey house where Orwell spent his childhood has been lying neglected for decades. The crumbling building is home to stray animals and vagabonds. A small portion was taken over by the state government and a schoolteacher now lives there.
Lal said the state government has sanctioned a sum of Rs.29 lakh (Rs 2.9 million/35,000 pounds) for its renovation. “More money is likely to be sanctioned in the coming days,” he said.
The notification for its protection has been issued under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments (Protection) Act, 1976.
According to the notification issued by the government, the district administration has been directed to start renovation work immediately with the aim of attracting tourists.
District officials as well as local residents say Orwell’s birthplace was on the verge of ruin. “The house is in a dilapidated condition,” they said.
It has been reported time and again that the roofline has bowed and buckled due to years of rain, while a large grapefruit tree has undermined the southern wall.
Only the stone floor looks solid, though it cracked during an earthquake that almost levelled Motihari in 1934.
At present, there is nothing to tell visitors that this modest two-room house was where Orwell spent the first few months of his life, tended to by his mother, Ida, and an Indian maid. Orwell and his mother left for Britain soon after.