Government orders OGH to be vacated, demolition feared

Yunus Y. Lasania

Hyderabad: Adding credence to fears that the age old Osmania General hospital (OGH) building may be demolished, the Telangana State director of medical education on Wednesday issued orders to hospital’s superintendent to vacate and seal the OGH’s old building.

The OGH is a notified heritage structure.

The order, dated 22 July, also asked the hospital authorities to ensure that “no activity should be undertaken” in the old building.

The order has come a week after the Osmania General hospital’s emergency wards were flooded following heavy rains. The water which was seen up to ankles and at some places up to knees drew flak from all corners. While junior doctor and interns from Osmania Medical College working at OGH have been demanding better amenities and facilities, a section of doctors have also been demanding the state government to demolish the old heritage structure and construct a new building in its place.

Hyderabad: Flooded floor of Osmania General Hospital due to drainage system failure, in Hyderabad, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI15-07-2020_000144B)

But majority of the civil society members are against the demolition of the hospital.  They want it to be properly conserved and put to use wherever it is possible.

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Jupally Rajender, president of the Telangana Medical and Health Gazetted Officers Association confirmed that the process to shift patience and offices of government officials to another building has already begun. The process would be completed soon. “We have been demanding to demolish this old building because it can fall anytime. It may be a heritage building, but there are places like the Charminar and Salar Jung museum for heritage and history enthusiasts,” he told siasat.com

His stand has come under flak by several quarters.  The conservationists believe that he has been supporting the plans of the Chief Minister without giving any attention to the public opinion.

While the state government did not mention anything about demolition of the OGH’s old building, it is to be seen whether it is carried out in the coming days given that the state government has undertaken the demolition of the old Secretariat buildings. A doctor from Osmania Medical College, who did not wish to be quoted, said that they had suspected all this while that the state government would find a reason to demolish the old heritage structure.

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“We suspected that the state government would support a pro-demolition lobby and use that as an excuse to take down the Heritage structure,” the doctor added. Last week, apart from the flooding of OGH, doctors had also alleged that there was severe shortage of oxygen cylinders which caused a lot of inconvenience to patients.

It may be recalled that the state government’s plans to demolish the OGH in 2015 had drawn such public ire, especially from heritage activists, after which the government dropped its plans. More recently, chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s attempt to demolish the Irrum Manzil was also opposed in the Telangana High court, which the state government eventually lost.

The construction of OGH was completed in 1925.

The writer is a Hyderabad-based journalist, who has previously worked for The New Indian Express, The Hindu and Mint.

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