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Telangana HC warns against unilateral decision to demolish heritage structure at OGH

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Vujjini Vamshidhar

Published on: March 17, 2022 | Updated on: March 17, 2022

Osmania General Hospital (OGH). (DC Image)

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Thursday observed that it would interpose if any decision was taken by the state government to demolish heritage buildings situated in the premises housing Osmania General Hospital (OGH) based on the report placed by the committee constituted by the state government.

The court opined that the committee’s report was not enough to arrive at a final decision on demolition. It said that reports from experts like structural engineers from IITs, architects and firms with expertise in assessment of stability of heritage structures and restoration, shall also be taken in order to assess viability of the said buildings in OGH.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili, was dealing with a batch of PILs related to dilapidated buildings in OGH premises. Some PILs were filed for directions to demolish existing buildings, including the heritage structure, to enable construction of new buildings.

Another batch of PILs objected to the proposal to demolish the heritage structure and sought its restoration. The PILs have been pending for the last six years.

After ignoring court directions all these days,, on Thursday, on behalf of the government, Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy, in-charge director of medical education, filed an affidavit stating that the issue of demolition of the existing buildings in OGH requires a comprehensive consideration of various attendant circumstances so that there is substantial compliance of all statutory provisions. In this regard the government on March 10 constituted a four-member committee, comprising engineer-in-chief of R&B, public health, panchayati raj and GHMC’s chief city planner, the affidavit said. It also said that the panel would submit its report within 15 days of its constitution. It is only after that would the government be in a position to take an appropriate decision on the heritage building, Ramesh Reddy submitted in the affidavit. This was objected by counsels of the group opposed to demolition.

Sama Sandeep Reddy, one of the counsels, argued that there was no need to touch the heritage building as new buildings could be built on the remaining 26 acres belonging to OGH. Other counsels apprehended doubts about the veracity of the official committee’s report.

Intervening, the court said that the official report was not an end in itself as it would also take the expert’s report into consideration.

Observing that it was aware that several heritage structures were demolished in the state on the grounds they were in a condition of dilapidation, the court remarked that several structures in OGH, which were built only a decade or two back were leaking from their roofs, unlike the heritage structure.

The cases were adjourned to April 8 so as to get the report of the committee that has been constituted by the state government.