The pathetic state of public toilets in the city has finally drawn the attention of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Stressing on the need to engage only professionals in the maintenance of public conveniences, the MCD Standing Committee on Wednesday closed the doors on organisations interested merely in cornering advertising rights on toilet walls in the name of maintaining these public facilities.
The recent series of articles by the Hindustan Times found a mention during the proceedings of the Standing Committee. "With the Commonwealth Game round the corner, sanitation is a serious concern. HT had recently highlighted the problem in its columns. This is an issue that requires immediate attention," pointed out Municipal Councillor Brij Mohan Sharma.
While clearing a proposal for inviting expressions of interest (EoI) from private players for maintenance of 1,544 MCD-owned blocks, the MCD barred 'non-governmental organisations' from submitting applications this time.
"Our earlier experience with 66 NGOs was terrible—not only did they not maintain the toilets, but they also did not pay the license fee and dragged the corporation into an unnecessary litigation. The toilets were then handed over to M/s Sulabh International but the organisation showed interest in only those toilet blocks that were fetching good advertising revenue," said Sharma.
Standing Committee Chairman JK Sharma said that Sulabh had been blacklisted by the MCD and would not be reconsidered for the job. Sulabh officials, however, defend their approach, saying that the toilets could not be maintained properly because the MCD did not release the funds for repairing the blocks.
To ensure that only those companies which have a sound financial holding should bid for the toilets, the MCD introduced clauses such as a security deposit of Rs 1 crore and a bank guarantee of a similar amount. "Also, the company will have to be pay minimum prescribed wages to all its employees hired for manning the toilets and not rely on volunteers," said councillor Vijender Gupta, adding, "We have earlier received complaints that the staff deployed at these toilet blocks overcharged the users."
Sharma said that a large number of toilet blocks in the city were in such a pitiable state that no company would want to bid for their maintenance. "The MCD will repair such toilet blocks," he said.
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