Plea to Telangana govt: Stop wanton destruction of OGH

The Telangana Assembly elections’ results on December 3, 2023 had many heave a deep sigh of relief. Many thought the iconic Osmania General Hospital got another lease of life. No longer would one have to fear the impending demolition of this beautiful Indo-Saracenic structure, which was under constant threat during the tenure of the BRS government. But alas, the Advocate General appearing for the government is adamant that a new hospital cannot be built without demolishing this heritage building.

The justification for the demolition is that the building is dilapidated and unsafe and also that there is no vacant space to construct a new building to serve as the hospital. Heritage lovers and ardent Hyderabadis are fed up of screaming themselves hoarse that the heritage structure stands on only 2.5 acres and that there are 24.5 acres available for a new building.

The structures that serve the purpose of dhobhi ghat, old mortuary, canteen, police station, PWD office, jail ward, hostels etc., on 24.5 acres can be pulled down and incorporated in a more ambitious modern hospital structure.

Hyderabad has seen its heritage being destroyed in the name of development or mere land grabbing. It is our duty to preserve whatever little is woefully left.

In 2019, a landmark judgement by the High Court prevented the razing of Errum Manzil Palace, thwarting the then Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s dream of building a vastu compliant secretariat on the grave of this opulent palace. The same argument of “dilapidated condition” was used then, but to no avail.

Bhatti Vikramarka, the then leader of Congress Legislature Party and a vocal opposition leader hailed the court’s verdict by calling the court judgment “a slap on the face of the government.” He went on to say, “This is not the first time that the court has pulled up this government. It shows that they are not following the law of the land. It is nothing but an autocratic rule and the court has pointed it out to them.”

Pray sir, this is your government now!

You, being the deputy chief minister, should play a proactive role in conservation of Telangana’s heritage especially the Osmania General Hospital.

Citizens of Hyderabad understand that the new government is grappling with many issues, a legacy of the previous BRS government. However, it would be remiss not to remind the chief minister Revanth Reddy that the Congress promised the preservation and conservation of the Osmania General Hospital in its manifesto.

We, the people, do not take manifesto promises lightly and assume that the government does not too.

Osmania General Hospital was deliberately left to rot in the hope that real estate sharks would eventually benefit. The heritage building should be repaired and serve as a museum of medicine as it has an illustrious history.

When one walks through the alleys of London, they are dotted with history at every nook and corner. Structures that are of greater antiquity than Osmania General Hospital are preserved. It serves as an example of how development and heritage can peacefully coexist.

One only hopes that the Telangana government wakes up to the grave injustice that it is going to commit.

One can only hope that the Telangana government becomes aware of the significant injustice it is poised to enact. The looming date of February 12, 2024, when the final hearing is scheduled, adds a sense of impending threat.