Yunus Y. Lasania
Hyderabad: In yet another embarrassing situation for the state government, the layer of a roof inside at the Osmania General Hospital’s fell to the floor on Thursday. The incident took place the bathroom of a duty doctor’s room, which is situated in the Quli Qutb Shah building, where patients are currently being treated after the main building was sealed shut last month.
The incident has drawn sharp criticism from the public, as infrastructure issues seem to be constant even in the Quli Qutb Shah block, which was built about two decades ago. Prior to this, junior doctors from OGH complained about lack of medical equipments, and other equipment, as things were still being shifted from the old heritage building to the Quli Qutb Shahi building.
When contacted, Dr. B. Nagender, Superintdent, OGH, brushed-off the incident, and said that the duty doctor should have approached him to rectify the issue. “How does this (posted on social media) make any difference to poor patients in Osmania Hospital? We should not tell them that the hospital in unsafe, as most of those who come here are from underprivileged backgrounds,” he told Siasat.com.
Infrastructure issues at OGH have been perpetual during the ongoing corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, last month, the main building, which is a heritage structure that was completed in 1925, was sealed shut on 22 July after rain water had flooded the emergency wards on the ground floor. While some doctors claimed that it was due to the building being in a dilapidated state, and demanded that it be shut, it has however since been found that the flooding was a result of a sewer line getting blocked underneath.
“I did not ask anyone to shut it, and in fact I was admitted with respiratory issues at NIMS after testing positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Nagender. When asked if the old building, which has not seen a drop of water enter it in spite of heavy rains, will be open, the Superintendent said that the decision on that wil be taken by higher authorities.
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.
OGH 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 OGH’s old building (along with others like High Court and City College) is an excellent example of the Osmanian style or Indo Saracenic genre of architecture. It 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 infrastructures like the High Court, railway stations, schools and OGH.