Critics alleged that the Telangana government failed to construct a new building for the hospital despite years of activism.

BJP Telangana unit President Bandi Sanjay Kumar and other leaders visited OGH on Thursday Images: Twiiter/ Bandi Sanjay & DK Aruna
news Healthcare Friday, July 17, 2020 - 09:08

On Wednesday, a ward at Hyderabad's Osmania General Hospital (OGH) was inundated with rain and drainage water, triggering outrage over the incident. Many, including Opposition parties, criticised the TRS government, led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), alleging flawed healthcare facilities and negligence.

OGH authorities roped in its staff, along with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GMHC) Disaster staff to clean the water that had flowed into the inpatient ward. The area had been used to accommodate medical and surgical patients. 

In February, the Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA) filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) urging the High Court to direct the Telangana government to construct a new building to house the hospital. It has also sought to direct the Telangana government to shift the current wings into other premises by constructing the new building in an available nine acres of land.

However, the recent incident put a spotlight on the infrastructural flaws of the current building, which had been pointed out earlier this year. Activists also alleged that the government had ignored the demand by merely focusing on the demolition of the building, without exploring alternatives to construct a new one. 

Members of the ruling party, however, appeared to push back at Opposition parties and civil society groups, saying that the latter cried foul when the government had proposed to demolish the old building and shift the patients to a different hospital in July 2015.

Speaking to TNM, Lubna Sarwath, a Hyderabad-based social activist, said that the civil society organisations and heritage conservation activists have never objected to the government constructing a new building, but had only opposed the proposal to demolish the old building as it is a heritage site.

She said, "This government is arrogant. It wants to remove the heritage of the Nizam era. Since we opposed the demolition of this heritage site, the government wanted to teach a lesson to those who opposed its decision at the cost of public health by not constructing a new building."

She added, "No one stopped them from constructing the new block without disturbing the heritage structure."

Padmanaba Reddy, of the Forum for Good Governance, said that it's a public health concern. He said, “We demanded the construction of a new building without disturbing the structure of the old building, and urged for repairing and keeping (the old building) for permanent preservation."

He noted that the HC has not stopped the government from constructing alternative buildings, and that it would already be available for people if the government had started.

BJP, which has frequently criticised the TRS government for its 'precarious' handling of COVID-19 pandemic and flawed health care facilities, has also lamented that the government consciously ignored 'cautions'. 

Speaking to TNM, BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao alleged that CM KCR has never made the public's concerns his priorities.  

Krishna Saagar said, "We objected to the demolition of the heritage site and wanted it to be preserved, but nobody stopped the government from constructing the hospital somewhere in the city if not in the same premises."

He added, "He could have built the hospital in the same place where Pragati Bhavan was built. All his infrastructure buildings have no public necessity or demand. He is only building history for himself. That is what stopped him from listening to NGOs or opposition parties." 

The HRDA’s petition is said to be heard in court on Monday. Its representative declined to discuss the incident, citing the sub judice of the same.  

Meanwhile, the patients of the specific ward have been shifted to Quli Qutub Shah building. Dr Pandu Naik, Osmania General Hospital Superintendent (in-charge), told TNM that earlier a detailed project report was prepared following the CM's inspection. He said that the matter of construction of new buildings is under consideration by the government.

TNM reached out to the state Health Minister's office seeking response to the issue as well as allegations. Health Minister Eatela Rajender is visiting OGH on Friday where he is likely to respond on the matter.

 
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