Hyderabad: The century-old heritage building of Osmania General Hospital (OGH) will not be demolished, but restored instead, said All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi. This comes just weeks after he said in April that he has no love for the historical structure.
The decision was taken at a meeting held a day earlier between AIMIM legislators and TRS cabinet ministers, including Telangana health minister T. Harish Rao on the issue. Aside from the main building of Osmania Hospital, it was also decided to expand the healthcare centre with a new modern structure at the meeting.
The meeting was also attended by Telangana home minister Mahmood Ali and animal husbandry minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav were also present.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Asaduddin Owaisi said that a committee of chief engineers will be submitting a report on the expansion of Osmania Hospital and also for upgradation. Prior to this, Owaisi drew the ire of activists when he said that he has no love for Osmania Hospital’s heritage building. On Tuesday, he added that the approximate cost for the new hospital building will be about Rs 560 crore.
The proposal for the same will be sent to chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s office, and then to the cabinet, stated the AIMIM chief. He added that a report will also be sent to the Telangana High Court where a public interest litigation with regard to the heritage structure of Osmania Hospital.
The Telangana High Court is hearing a case with regard to the fate of Osmania Hospital as the state government had planned to demolish the structure earlier. OGH is a part of Hyderabad’s modern buildings built during the time of the city’s last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan (1911-48). It may be noted that the structure is also listed and protected under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority’s laws.
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.
Lack of restoration over the years
In a 2013 report, a new building block in Osmania Hospital was suggested to be built for Rs. 100 crore and restoration of the old structure was suggested for Rs.19 crore then. The new building was to have many other facilities, which were being run from other buildings. However, after Telangana was formed in 2014, CM KCR visited Osmania Hospital in 2015, which was followed by an announcement of OGH’s demolition.
The announcement of demolition led to a public outcry, following which an expert team from the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture, and Heritage (INTACH) submitted a structural, stability and safety study of Osmania Hospital.
It summarized that the conservation of the in-patient block or the old heritage building should be restored based on heritage conservation principles. In 2019, state officials along with architects from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) also inspected Osmania Hospital to look at restoration. But that also fell through.