With the Centre unwilling to part with the Bison Polo Ground in Secunderabad to build a new Secretariat for Telangana, four blocks of the present Telangana Secretariat are to be demolished and a new building to come up at the same spot. Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has been on record to state that the present Secretariat is like a pigeon hole and that foreign dignitaries have been critical of the facility.
But the Secretariat is not a life and death matter, the Osmania Hospital is. It is not a pigeon hole, it is a hell hole. Step into the hospital, constructed exactly a century ago in 1919, and it won’t take you long to realise the entire facility is in ICU. Gasping for breath, showing all signs of collapsing any moment.
Yet poor patients have to endure terrible conditions at this building in the hope they will get treated. If there is one building that needs more urgent attention that anything else in Telangana, it is the Osmania Hospital.
Not that KCR is unaware of it. In fact in July 2015, the CM personally inspected the 1168-bed hospital and suggested it be brought down to construct a new building.
“In seven days, we will shift Osmania Hospital out of here. The doctors, nurses working here and patients all are at risk. This could collapse any time,” KCR had said.
Heritage activists were aghast and protested against such a move, forcing KCR to back off. Even though some patients were moved out of the building, nothing happened thereafter. Things moved back to status quo and occasionally doctors protest by wearing helmets to focus attention on the pieces that crumble and fall from the roof.
“Feel the pain of the patients. The government possibly cannot continue a medical facility in such a condition,” says Robin Zaccheus, Hyderabad-based social activist. “It is a horror. Most of the ACs and the fans in the ICU are not in working condition. You cannot even stand in the washrooms, they are so terrible. A patient told me we are treated like animals.”
When a patient is admitted to hospital, he/she and relatives have already undergone enough trauma. The least they expect is that the facility will treat them with dignity. In its current state, Osmania Hospital does not.
Osmania Hospital built by the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan was the premier hospital till the 1980s when the influx of corporate hospitals stole its sheen.
“Doctors wearing helmets and protesting is a conspiracy against the hospital. Only the plaster is falling off. What we need to do is to shift the critical centres of the hospital and restore it phase by phase. During the monsoon, water collects on the roof and leaks,” says Mohammed Safiullah, Historian and member of the Nizam’s Trust.
Zaccheus has now written to the President and Prime Minister of India, seeking their intervention. But the chief minister is the best placed to take note of this SOS and make Osmania Hospital a safe place. For a chief minister determined to leave behind a legacy, KCR needs to give the hospital a new lease of life. Whether that involves pulling the plug on the present Osmania hospital, located on the banks of river Musi, is another matter.