Renovation work on legendary British author George Orwell’s house in a Bihar town where he was born has begun, officials said on Thursday.
“Finally, renovation of Orwell’s birthplace has started,” said East Champaran district magistrate Abhay Kumar Singh, who launched the work.
Singh said the district authorities would provide all possible help to develop the crumbling, dilapidated single—storey brick house in the lake town of Motihari, district headquarters of East Champaran.
He admitted that renovation work was delayed in the last few years.
“I have instructed the officials to close all entry and exit points, except the main gate of the site,” he said.
Deo Priya Mukherjee, associated with George Orwell Commemorative Committee, said a state government agency has been entrusted with the task of renovating the house at an estimated cost of Rs.45 lakh.
Three years ago, then chief minister Nitish Kumar ordered the officials to prepare a restoration and development plan for the neglected building. He was keen to preserve Orwell’s birthplace to attract tourists.
Orwell, the cult author of classics such as “Animal Farm” and “1984”, which painted a grim “Orwellian” picture of a future totalitarian society where big brother is always watching, has a unique India link.
But successive governments have done little to capitalise on it.
The state government issued a notification under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments (Protection) Act, 1976, and declared the building a protected site four years ago.
According to district officials, Orwell’s birthplace was mainly targeted by encroachers.
Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 in Motihari 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.