The Osmania General Hospital Joint Action Committee (OGHJAC) has suspended its protest, after the Telangana Health Minister C Laxma Reddy assured its members of constructing a new hospital soon.
On Sunday, the members of the JAC met the minister at his residence and gave a representation, detailing their plight of working in the In-patient ward (old building), which is on the verge of collapse. The minister in response told the JAC that he would lay the foundation stone for the new hospital within a week, and it will be constructed soon.
The JAC, comprising trade unions, students’ group, employees’ associations, has been on a protest for the last 80 days.
Speaking to TNM, JAC chairman Pandu Naik said that they haven’t quit the protest entirely, but have only suspended it temporarily.
“Since the minister has assured us of constructing the hospital, we have suspended the protest for now. If the minister doesn’t stick to his words, we’ll resume our protest,” he said.
The minister would be visiting Osmania hospital for a casualty ward inauguration this week and he is likely to make an announcement about the new building on the occasion. Naik added, “The minister told us that all the hassles, pertaining to the heritage tag that the Old building had, have been cleared.”
The In-patient block (Old building) was deemed unfit by the Telangana State Medical Services and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TSMDIC) and was marked an ‘Unsafe Zone’ in 2017.
Initially, the government wanted to demolish the building, as the structure was too old and could collapse any day, leading to a catastrophe. However, many historians and heritage experts objected to the government’s decision, stating that the building is a heritage structure. Subsequently, the government withdrew its decision to demolish the building, and the building continued to house patients.
Even when the entire structure was marked unsafe, the hospital management evacuated just the second floor and was accommodating patients on the first floor.
As the building was endangering the lives of patients, doctors and staff working there, the staff had carried out a protest every day since January for one hour, by abstaining from duties to highlight their plight. They even wore helmets at work to bring attention to their concerns. Finally, the government has given an assurance, resulting in the temporary suspension of the protest.