A 120-year old building where the Berry White Medical School – later Assam Medical College – had started way back in 1900, is all set to get a fresh lease of life, with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) being entrusted the task of renovating it.
“We have been entrusted with the responsibility of renovation and reconstruction of the first building of the Berry White Medical School constructed around 1898, and we hope to complete it within the next 15 months,” INTACH Dibrugarh chapter convenor Aradhana Kataki said.
INTACH on Wednesday signed a MoU with Oil India Ltd in Dibrugarh, according to which the public sector oil company would provide Rs 2.01 crore for the renovation work. The building has been lying in a dilapidated condition inside the Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh for over 25 years now.
“The building will become a museum-cum-archive, where visitors will be able to understand not just the history of the medical college and medical education in Assam, but also learn about the various contributions that Dr John Berry White a British officer, had made for the overall development of the state,” Laya Madduri, deputy commissioner of Dibrugarh said.
White had served as Civil Surgeon of Upper Assam in the 1870s after retiring from the British Army, and it was he who drew up plans for setting up a medical school in Dibrugarh. “While he had donated his entire savings, about Rs 50,000, for the establishment of the medical school, White passed away in 1896, four years before his dream project actually began to function,” Kataki said. The medical school was later converted to Assam Medical College in 1947, to become the first medical college in the entire Northeastern region.
The museum that is proposed to be set up once the original building is renovated would also be a tribute to several major contributions that White had made for the socio-economic development of Assam.
“White was not just a doctor. It was at his initiative that the Assam Railway & Trading Company had started the first coal-mines in Makum and laid the first railway line from Dibrugarh to Margherita in 1884, with the laying of the railway line also leading to the discovery of oil in Digboi. That way Assam owes a lot to White in terms of his pioneering role in the state’s industrial and healthcare development,” Pranjit Deka, executive director of Oil India Ltd said.