The malevolent demolition of Osmania General Hospital

A good real estate proposition with whopping millions to be made by all standards

Sara mathews
Sarah Mathews

The imposing Assembly Hall in which our politicians discuss and debate matters of the state was built in 1913 and served as a Town Hall initially. As one gets caught in traffic snarls on the Begumpet main road, one cannot help but be astounded by the magnificent main block of Hyderabad Public School, originally Jagirdars’ College established in 1923. The Telangana High Court built in 1919 on the banks of the River Musa stands as an awesome testament to the evolution of the state’s judiciary from that of a princely state to a state belonging to the independent union of India. And just across the river, on the other side, stands the majestic Osmania General Hospital, built in 1912, singled out for step motherly treatment by the state government. The contrast in treatment cannot be more stark. All these grand buildings are maintained and are in use but the Osmania General Hospital ( OGH) looks like a step child dressed in tattered rags.

The first threat for the demolition of Osmania General Hospital was issued in 2015. Ironically this threat was by none other than the government elected on the basis of “Telangana pride” but intent on destroying its heritage as subsequent events proved. Activists and concerned citizens protested and OGH was on the front pages of newspapers. The government stepped back and bided time.

Akbaruddin Owaisi asked govt not to demolish OGH two years ago

Akbaruddin Owaisi, MLA, in a passionate plea asked the state government not to demolish Osmania General Hospital two years ago. “ We are against the demolition of Osmania General Hospital”, Akbaruddin Owaisi loudly proclaimed. “Osmania General Hospital hamari pehchaan hai, hamari shaan hai, Hyderabad ki naak hai” were his impassioned words to which the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao responded that as the matter was sub judice therefore  he could not comment on it but the High Court decision is awaited after which due consultations will be held before any decision is taken.

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April ‘22 saw Asaduddin Owaisi, MP And AIMIM Chief, do a flip-flop. He first declared that he had no love lost for the historical structure and within a few weeks in May ’22, he said that the heritage building of Osmania General Hospital would not be demolished but restored instead. Hyderabadis heaved a collective sigh of relief.

Govt submitted affidavit to HC announcing its decision to raze OGH

Fast forward to 27 July’23. The state government submitted an affidavit to the High Court announcing its decision to raze the heritage building to the ground and build a new hospital building. This was after a meeting attended by Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, Akbaruddin Owaisi, MLA,  Harish Rao- Health Minister, Mahmood Ali- Home Minister and others. The threat raised its ugly head again with elections around the corner. What caused the change of heart? Why the frenzy?

A six-member experts panel consisting of three engineer-in-chiefs representing R&B, Panchayati Raj and Public Health departments along with GHMC’s Chief City `planner, and two independent nominees appointed upon the High Court’s direction — an IITH professor and an engineer from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its recommendations to the government asked for the heritage building to be renovated, repaired and conserved as a heritage building to be used for non-hospital purposes.

Is it a real estate game?

The heritage structure occupies a footprint area of three acres out of the 26 acres’ campus.  A new hospital can be built on the remaining area. The burning desire to demolish the heritage building remains a mystery. Such mysteries give rise to speculation. A medical college requires only five acres of land. So what happens to the remaining land after a new hospital/medical college is built? Election time always brings promises not fulfilled to mind. The metro in the old city is one such unfulfilled promise. Chief Minister KCR announced the metro rail expansion in the old city. Voila! The announcement of the demolition of Osmania General Hospital followed fast on its heels.

Perhaps the remaining  21 acres of the campus will be used for the metro station, metro mall, etc.? A good real estate proposition with whopping millions to be made by all standards! Make hay while the sun shines? After all, 65,000 sft can be built up on an acre!

As the minimum and maximum rates per sft are Rs 10 thousand and Rs. 1 lakh respectively, the 21 acres amount to Rs. 1365-13650 crores.

It’s a splendid malevolent move- massive real estate gains and the convenient erasure of Asaf Jah heritage by destroying whatever was built by the  Nizams. Thus the frenzy!

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