The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) plans to construct high-end toilet complexes at important locations across south Delhi. The civic body has identified 94 sites for the project, the proposal for which will be placed in the standing committee meeting on March 21 for final approval. After this, the civic body will begin the tendering process for the Public Toilet Units (PTUs).
The move surprised many as the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi had launched a similar, but unsuccessful, project ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Nine such public facilities were proposed in south Delhi and were to be constructed in a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model. There was a plan to develop them as cafe-cum toilet blocks. Only eight such centres were developed by the concessionaire. However, the corporation scrapped the project later after the opposition alleged a scam. Residents associations had also raised objections over the terms and conditions of the contract, which gave real estate rights to a private company for a pittance. A few of them were constructed on pavements. The matter is still pending in Delhi high court.
But, this time SDMC claims to have planned the project properly. It has already taken in-principle approval from the land-owing agency for the construction. Radhey Shyam Sharma, SDMC standing committee chairman, said, “SDMC has taken prior admission from Public Works Department (PWD) as a majority of the sites are located on roads owned by it.”
The PTUs will be built on a design-build-operate-and-transfer (DBOT) basis and cover an area of 22-25 square metres. An SDMC official said, “The concessionaire will maintain the hygiene in terms of the upkeep and cleanliness. The facilities will be free.” The design of the facilities will be such that the differently abled will also be able to use them easily. The toilets will also have a provision for four toilet seats in addition to the urinals. There will be changing stations for infants and vending machines for sanitary napkins.
Unlike the previous high-end complexes, these new ones will not have provisions for coffee or flower shops. The land for the construction of the toilets will be provided by SDMC while the concessionaire will bear the cost of developing these toilets and maintain them for 10 years. “After that, the corporation will take over the maintenance of these complexes,” said Mukesh Yadav, SDMC spokesperson.
Out of 94 sites in the four SDMC zones (South, West, Central and Najafgarh), 36 are in south zone and 22 in central zone. Sharma said that 12 of the facilities will be constructed from the funds provided by Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) under their Corporation Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme. IGL has already started working at some sites. For the rest of the 82 sites, tendering process will be done in a phased manner. The work over the project will start from April.
The private concessionaire will earn by placing advertisements outside the toilet complex. “Since the private company will bear all the construction cost, they need a source to generate revenues too. They will be allowed to put advertisement as per the SDMC advertisement policy,” said Subhash Arya, SDMC mayor. The licensing fees charged by the SDMC from the advertisements placed at the toilet complex will be evaluated on the basis of the location of each site. For example, the advertisements placed at the toilet complex on BRT road will earn more revenue than the advertisement placed at some market in the Najafgarh zone.
In phase-I, four agencies will be selected and each will be given the contract to construct a cluster of 15 toilet complexes. Each cluster will include sites from three zones and a mix of advertising sites falling under A, B and C categories. “This will give all four companies an opportunity to earn equal revenue from the advertisements,” Sharma said. Based on the performance of these concessionaires in terms of maintenance, services and design of the complex, work will be allotted for rest of the sites in subsequent phases.
Farhad Suri, SDMC leader of opposition, criticized the move. He said SDMC is committing the same mistake which they had done in 2010. “The 2010 project was finalised on the basis of their advertisement value. At present, it is difficult to comment if the sites are approved on what basis — requirement or advertisement value.” He added that Govindpuri and Sangam Vihar need more toilets but more facilities have been proposed for Sarvpriya Vihar and Greater Kailash.
2010 PROJECT FLUSHED DOWN THE DRAIN
In 2010, the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi had announced construction of as many as 216 high-end toilets in South Delhi. Nine bidders had come forward and constructed model complexes. But the project was put on hold as some residents welfare associations objected the construction. The local bodies raised questions over allowing commercial activity on land meant for public utilities.
Following this, former mayor and the standing committee gave an anticipatory approval for the project but later they decided to scrap it. After all this development, the bidders and one of the RWAs took the matter to court. The RWA wanted the complexes to be removed while the concessionaire sought for compensation as it had spent money in building the structures which were never used. The matter is sub judice.
Later, SDMC suggested in court about using the structures for other purposes. Among the options suggested are milk and vegetable booths, e-governance kiosks, railway booking offices, space for ironing of clothes, public libraries, recreation centres and gyms. Nothing has been finalised yet.