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Telangana HC asks Govt to submit final plan for reconstruction of Osmania General Hospital
Hyderabad: The long, ongoing demands related to the reconstruction of Osmania General Hospital, a heritage structure and one of the oldest hospitals of the country, received a boost-up after the Telangana High Court directed the state government to submit a final comprehensive plan about the hospital reconstruction. Asking the government to stop being indecisive and take a final...
Hyderabad: The long, ongoing demands related to the reconstruction of Osmania General Hospital, a heritage structure and one of the oldest hospitals of the country, received a boost-up after the Telangana High Court directed the state government to submit a final comprehensive plan about the hospital reconstruction.
Asking the government to stop being indecisive and take a final decision, the court directed it to submit the plan by February 7, 2023. The court also presented its displeasure at the government since the latter has been extending the issue for around six years even though several petitions and listings were pending before the Court.
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The division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy observed, "You may either proceed further as per an earlier decision to construct a new hospital in the existing place or go for construction in a vast vacant place available in the premises." Kohli further noted, "this type of ambiguity cannot be maintained for long time."
The judgement came in response to various PIL's filed regarding the protection of the heritage site on one hand and constructing a new hospital in the current premises on the other hand. Various petitions sought the restructuring, renovation and repair of the hospital, which previously used to be an in-patient block, while relying on the GO 333 issued by the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government in 2010, reports the Siasat.
Responding to the court's queries, Advocate General B.S Prasad submitted that the state government is willing to construct a new hospital in place of the current old structure, however, they are unable to move forward due to various legal issues regarding the heritage structure. However, the court asked why the government did not allot any funds despite having available land and directed the government to make up a clear mind, as per a media report in the Deccan Chronicle.
The court said, "If the government had taken a decision a while ago, new constructions would have come up by now." Coming down on Advocate General Prasad for not following the previous orders passed by the court, it asked the government to submit a site plan of the hospital, including Google maps, to get an understanding of the available vacant space by the next hearing.
A set of petitioners has been arguing for the protection of the heritage structure, stating that it is only spread around two acres out of the 25 sprawling acres in which the hospital is located. They observed that a new hospital building could be built in the remaining space.
Senior Counsel Sarasani Satyam Reddy referred to the Errum Manzil judgment of 2019 to argue that the hospital still remains a protected heritage monument, and the 100-year-old heritage structure of the hospital has been under the threat of demolition for a long time now. The next date of hearing has been scheduled for February 7, 2023.
The judgement has come days after members of the Osmania Junior Doctors Association (JUDA), Osmania Alumni Association (OAA), HRDA, Telangana Government Doctors Association, and a few others conducted a protest rally at Osmania General Hospital to Osmani Medical College demanding a new hospital building to be constructed. Around 200 students, doctors and activists joined the protest, and raised slogans like, 'we want new building', and 'Jai Osmania'.
The protesters complained about the collapsing state of the rooftop of the hospital building, adding that they needed a new block to function without risking anyone's life within the hospital premises. While speaking to the News Minute, Dr. Vanya Jasmine, General Secretary, JUDA said, "With the scarcity of beds and wards, there is a lot of confusion about patients at times, and we are not able to do justice to those who need medical attention. We don't understand what we are doing."
She added, "At times, we have to send some patients home with insufficient treatment so that a more seriously ill patient can be accommodated in their bed. Earlier, if a patient was scheduled for surgery, we used to prepare them by performing an investigation and then keep them under observation. Whereas now, after some tests, we have to send them home and ask them to come on the day of surgery so that hospital beds are available for others. But sometimes patients come from far away places and it is not feasible for them to do so many rounds."
Dr Srikanth, another member of the JUDA said, "What's the point in keeping a building that is dilapidated when no one can use it? It would be great if the same space can turn into a new hospital and regain its glory. Recently, the hospital had about 3000 admissions on December 1, which is a record, and the hospital could not provide efficient treatment to all of them due to the lack of beds. If there is a new building, it would be good for everyone."
The Telangana HC had set up a committee comprising of Engineers-in-Chief from various departments, as well as experts from IIT Hyderabad, and members of the Archeological Survey of India, Telangana in March to study the structural stability of the Osmania Hospital building. In the report submitted by the committee in July, it observed, "The condition of the building is not safe for use presently, and cannot be used for hospital purposes at all. However, the structure can be repaired and renovated so as to increase the life of the building and can be put to use after taking up repair works for non-hospital purposes. As it is a listed heritage building, appropriate conservation repairs are to be taken up under the supervision of the conservation architect."
However, the government has failed to make its position clear despite the report submitted by the committee. Dr Mahesh from the Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA) said, "The government has to take some stand. We want to know whether the government is complying with the committee report or not – will a new building be constructed in the open space, what is the time period, what is the budget approval, and what is the estimate? – we don't understand why they are taking so much time in arriving at a decision. There is no commitment from the government to build a structure for the OGH, I don't understand why we have to go behind them again and again."
The Osmania General Hospital was built during the reign of Mir Osman Ali khan, the last Nizam Nawab in 1925, and is a listed heritage structure. The old building of the hospital was vacated and sealed in July 2020 after incidents of roof and ceiling collapse, drainage and rainwater gushing into hospital wards, etc. The patients were shifted to other two buildings of the hospital, which are now currently growing congested.
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Revu is currently pursuing her masters from University of Hyderabad. With a background in journalism, she joined Medical Dialogues in 2021.