Keep or demolish heritage site, but construct new Osmania Hospital building: Owaisi to KCR

Hyderabad: AIMIM president and Hyderabad Lok Sabha member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi today visited the state-run Osmania General Hospital (OGH), and demanded the state government to construct a new building. Owaisi even indirectly gunned for the old heritage structure of OGH to be taken down, by saying that his party is not concerned if the state government keeps or demolishes it.

“We demand that the chief minister (K Chandrasekhar Rao) announce the construction of a new building. We are telling the chief minister that if you want to keep the heritage building keep it, if you want to demolish it, then demolish it. We have nothing to do with it, and only want a new structure. Even if it costs Rs. 1000 crore then spend it,” Asaduddin Owaisi said on Monday while addressing a press conference after his visit to OGH.

Owaisi said that if KCR wants to, he can sanction Rs. 1000 crore, as it “is not a big amount”. “We are asking him to come down and lay the foundations of the building himself. Osmania hospital gets patients from surrounding districts and also other states,” the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) national president added.

Owaisi visited OGH along with his party MLAs and other leaders. As of now, the old heritage building of Osmania Hospital is shut and not in use. It was closed-off last year in July after water flooded the ground floor during the monsoon. However, it was found that the flooding was caused by a blocked nala or sewage line underneath and not due to the rains. The state government has since then not reopened it, and all patients have been shifted to temporary blocks due to a lack of space.

Petition launched on to stop demolition of OGH

Moreover, a few doctors from OGH, who did not want to be quoted, said that Owaisi and his AIMIM leaders did not visit the wards or interact with patients. “He (Owaisi) came and sat in the temporary office of the hospital superintendent, and held a meeting. The local MP probably visited OGH for the first time in his life, and he did not even have a proper look at the infrastructure,” said one of the senior doctors.

After his visit, Owaisi, also said that when the new building is built, the name should be the same, and it should also be designed in the same way as the existing heritage structure. “The heritage building is just lying there, and is an eyesore. We have nothing to do with the heritage building. Are you going to look at heritage or peoples lives? For heritage you have the Charminar, Golconda fort, etc. Incorporate the same architecture. Our demand is to sanction the new building,” Owaisi stated.

The AIMIM MP stated that Osmania General Hospital is a boon to the poor, not only of Hyderabad, but also of south Telangana and even surrounding states like Karnataka and Maharashtra. “We are not concerned with the heritage building, and will not give the government a chance to say that it can’t construct it due to the old building,” Owaisi added.

The MP stressed on the heritage building more than a few times, which speaks a lot of the issue. Heritage activists from Hyderabad have been up in arms against the state government which earlier indicated that it will take down the old historical structure earlier. However, as of now, there is a case in the High Court to decide the fate of Osmania Hospital.

“Osmania Hospital got the tag that it was closed during the pandemic due to floods. Now, the MP of the area visits the hospital for the first time in his life. We never heard him visiting the place in his life even once, until now. If the old one is torn down, the hospital has to be first relocated temporarily. They will simply shift it to some place like Vanasthalipuram, and new batches will be shifted to different hospitals. Many years will pass by like that,” said former Osmania Medical College passout Dr. Iqbal Jawed.

History of Osmania General Hospital

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 a fine example of the Osmanian 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, schools and OGH.