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Primary Projects

Birsa Munda Jail Restoration

The Birsa Munda Jail, in the heart of Ranchi city in the state of Jharkhand, is where the legendary tribal freedom fighter, Birsa Munda, was imprisoned and died at the young age of 25. A true folk hero, who belonged to the Munda tribe, he played a major role in the millenarian movement that rose in the tribal belt of modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand during the British Raj in the late 19th century. He is thus an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement.

ITRHD was entrusted with the task of conserving and restoring the jail premises so that they can eventually house a tribal museum. Although the historic building is located in urban Ranchi, the project has such strong relevance to rural tribal Jharkhand that we felt it was well within ITRHDs purview. The facts that we were asked to take up the project by the Jharkhand Government, and that it is a project strongly supported by the Prime Minister, were additional factors leading us to accept the responsibility. The project was monitored and primarily funded by Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, with additional monitoring by JUIDCO, a department of the Government of Jharkhand.

The administrative block of the structure was built in the 19th century, primarily to house the office of the then British Resident Commissioner. Later it was converted into a jail, where Birsa Munda died in 1900. The jail remained operational until it was shifted in 2005. By then it had deteriorated greatly. When ITRHD signed the MOU with the Jharkhand Government, most of the structure was in extremely dilapidated condition. The roof and the walls had deep rooted vegetation and the roof of most buildings was profusely leaking. The earthen tiles were falling apart at a large number of places and due to non-usage of the premises for nearly 15 years, there was water seepage both from beneath the ground as well as from the roof. The walls had cracked and fallen on ground at several places.

The ITRHD team worked under the direction of Prof. AGK Menon, ITRHD Trustee, and Shri Inderjeet Singh, former ASI official. We began the work in November 2018 by clearing massive amounts of debris from the buildings and basic cleaning. A major challenge was to remove the vegetation roots with care as they had penetrated deep inside the structure making it difficult to work. Slowly we managed to get access to all the rooms and work began on a war footing, many days in two shifts. Our team worked with utmost dedication and was able to achieve remarkable results within a short span of time. Progress was examined by regular visitors, including senior Government officials, as work was going on. Their suggestions were of great help, as was the cooperation of JUIDCO officials.

The total cost of the project was 9.25 crores and it was successfully completed within the stipulated time period.