HYDERABAD: AIMIM supremo Asaduddin Owaisi’s consent for demolition of the Osmania General Hospital on Monday, has ruffled the feathers of heritage activists working to protect the heritage structure since decades.
Since 2015, there have been signals that the State government is looking to demolish the old heritage structure along with other structures inside the hospital’s premises and construct a super-speciality hospital. However, stiff resistance from activists supported by the legal fraternity has halted the government’s ambitious plans.
For Dr Md Iqbal Jaweed, General Physician, who graduated from Osmania Medical College in 1968, the OGH is “a diamond in Hyderabad’s skyline” and not a mere heritage structure. His father Dr Md Osman had served there till his end. Dr Jaweed says the neglect of OGH began in 1985 in order “to divert people to private hospitals” which were mushrooming around the time. However, he points out that in 2012, when K Rosaiah, the then Chief Minister of erstwhile AP, was admitted at the hospital, he was so moved by the plight of OGH, that he had released `200 crore to conserve the front-elevation of the heritage structure facing the mirror image of the High Court. However, the works never took off.
Recalling the incident of seepage of water in OGH wards due to rain in July, 2020, the cause of which he said was plastic-clogged manholes; had prompted the Director of Medical Health to order closure of the in-patient section indefinitely. This was met with resistance from the OGH Joint Action Committee, which has been protesting for a year now, demanding that the section be opened for the public again.Just couple of months ago, the then Health Minister Eatala Rajender had ordered that admission of patients be resumed on the ground and first floors, and to start conservation works on the second floor.
“Even now, funds of Rs 19.8 crore are with the hospital for taking up conservation work. The Telangana State Medical Services and Infrastructure Development Corporation and Department of Archaeology are supposed to carry out the works jointly. Aga Khan Trust said they were ready to give the know-how for the works,” Dr Iqbal claims.
S Satyam Reddy, senior counsel, who had filed a PIL in 2015 at High Court citing the then Deputy Chief Minister’s announcement to demolish OGH, tells TNIE that the State government couldn’t go ahead with demolition as the stay was in effect. He added that a 2019 ruling of the High Court against the State government’s decision to demolish Errum Manzil applied to all heritage structures, including the OGH.