Congress leaders to take up Osmania Hospital demolition issue with CM

Many have criticised the Congress of backtracking on its word, after it mentioned in its election manifesto last year that it will save the Osmania Hospital’s historical building.

Hyderabad: The saga of Osmania General Hospital’s (OGH) survival or impending demolition is far from over. Now, a few Congress leaders are likely to take up the matter with Telangana chief minister Revanth Reddy. One of the leaders from the ruling party told Siasat.com that the matter will be discussed fully before the next hearing on February 12.

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The issue is once again at the forefront as the government reportedly reiterated its stand before a division bench of Telangana High Court that the old heritage structure of Osmania Hospital must give way for a new one to be erected. Many have criticised the Congress for backtracking on its word, after it mentioned in its election manifesto last year that it will save the Osmania Hospital’s historical building. The previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government had decided to demolish it.

“We have time till February 12 and Shabbir Ali will take charge as government advisor on February 2 as well. So we will discuss this. We will explain to the CM that the building is an important mark of Hyderabad’s culture and that it needs to be preserved,” the Congress leader, who did not want to be named, added.

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Moreover, he in fact alleged that more than the new government it is the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) that has been gunning for the demolition of Osmania Hospital’s heritage building.

It may be recalled that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi caused a furore and came under fire from activists for saying that the heritage building should be torn down for a new hospital building to be built in its place.

While there is no doubt that Osmania Hospital’s infrastructure is in shambles, the heritage structure, which was built in the 1920s by Hyderabad’s last Nizam occupies only three out of the total 26 acres of the entire premises.

Well-know architect Srinivas Murthy, who designed Yashoda Hospital’s Gachibowli site, last year gave several alternatives during a presentation at Lamakaan last year. Other activists have also time and again pointed out that there is ample space to construct a new hospital.

INTACH members plead for restoration of Osmania Heritage Building
Osmania General Hospital in Hyderabad

“It is not going to be demolished just like that. We have time before the next hearing and we will take care of this as well. I am not sure what transpired for the advocate general to tell the court that it will be demolished,” the Congress leader told Siasat.com.

It remains to be seen whether the Congress eventually ends up keeping its word or not.

Heritage structure shut since 2020

Prior to this, the previous BRS government under ex-chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) was stopped from demolishing the Irrum Manzil building, which is a 19th century palace that was built by Nawab Fakhruddin Mulk at Punjagutta. The matter had gone to court after KCR announced his decision to raze it and construct a new Secretariat there. His plan eventually was scrapped.

Similarly with Osmania Hospital, KCR had first visited it in 2015 after which demands to restore the monument were made by activists. The issue was came to the fore once again in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when rain water caused flooding in the heritage building’s ground floor. It was evacuated and sealed, following which a group of doctors have been asking to demolish it, and the matter eventually ended up in the High Court.

However, it may be noted that soon after the 2020 flooding, it was found that a clogged nala in the premises had caused the flooding and that the building was not at fault.

History of Osmania General Hospital

Osmania Hospital was completed in 1925 after Hyderabad was affected by the bubonic plague around 1911. The city administration then took care of the issue, following which the then Nizam Osman Ali Khan (1911-48) set up the City Improvement Board (CIB) in 1912 to improve Hyderabad’s infrastructure. It was designed by architect Vincent Esch, who also designed the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.

The original or heritage building of Osmania Hospital (along with others like the High Court and City College) is a fine example of the Osmania style or Indo-Saracenic genre of architecture and is an integral part of Hyderabad’s 20th-century riverscape and skyline. The CIB during the reign of Osman Ali Khan had transformed the medieval city into a modern metropolis, complete with infrastructure like the High Court, railway stations, etc.

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