Medical museum to rise from ruins - First Assam school of medicine built in 1900 will be dismantled to give way to replica

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  • Published 16.06.10

Dibrugarh, June 15: The ruins of Assam’s first medical school in Dibrugarh will soon be dismantled and in its place will rise a replica of the building built by Dr John Berry White in 1900, to house the state’s medical museum.

The institution that began as Dr John Berry White Medical School was upgraded to become the Assam Medical College in 1947.

With the upgradation, the glorious chapter of Dr John Berry White Medical School came to an end, with most of the buildings built during the British era being abandoned.

The medical college hospital, now famous as the Assam Medical College and Hospitals (AMCH), began functioning from an abandoned military hospital set up by the US army during World War II at Barbari in Dibrugarh town.

Some of the buildings of the erstwhile medical school still stand, unattended and uncared for.

For years, there have been demands from various organisations to turn these buildings into a heritage site.

The Assam government has finally given its nod to converting the ruins of Berry White Medical School into a medical museum.

The archive in the museum will showcase the history of modern medical science in Assam since 1900, an official at the AMCH said.

Funds to the tune of Rs 1 crore have been allocated for the project, work on which will be taken up shortly.

“We had been requesting chief minister Tarun Gogoi for quite some time now and we are thankful that he has finally given the nod,” AMCH principal and chief superintendent T.R. Borborah said.

He said Gogoi had wanted to do something for AMCH as his father had studied at the institution.

“Since the original John Berry White Medical School building is in a very bad shape, we have decided to dismantle it and build a replica of the school in its place, for which an architect has been engaged. We would have loved to keep and renovate the old building, but it will not be possible. According to experts, the building is too worn out because of lack of maintenance and age,” Borborah said.

“We had contacted the heritage sub-committee of the Dibrugarh District Park and Environment Society, headed by the deputy commissioner and some other experts. According to experts, the building has lost its strength. Therefore, there is no other way but to dismantle it. Besides, who will take responsibility if something untoward happens at the site?” the principal asked.

The heritage sub-committee, however, had stressed that the building, even if it had lived its life, should be preserved through modern methods.

“There are many buildings which are hundreds of years old. There will be some way to preserve this building too. Therefore, we appeal to all concerned to think in that direction,” Kalpana Khound, the chairperson of the heritage sub-committee, said.