Construction work of temporary toilets for Simhastha fair has been under fire in every aspect- quality, cost and timely completion.
The month-long Simhastha mela in Ujjain district, held once in 12 years, will begin from April 22.
Ujjain Municipal Corporation has been assigned the job to construct 40,000 toilets, 20,000 bathrooms and 10,000 urinals with a budget of Rs 140 crore.
The work has been allocated to Sulabh international, Sintex and Lalluji Sons.
Less than a week is remaining for the peshwais (procession to mark the entry of akharas in Simhastha) to reach Ujjain and the work on toilets is far from over.
According to sources, only 15,000 toilets have been completed and work on over 15,000 is stuck at different stages- while toilets have been constructed at many places, work to link the water line is still pending.
Work at spots in Mangalnath, Dutta Akhara and other zones is yet to be started.
Saints compelled to defecate in the open: Atmaram Das
Saint Atmaram Das in the Kalbherav area said saints were compelled to defecate in the open as toilets were not built. “Fair authorities had claimed that all the arrangements would be in place before the start of April but the scene is altogether different,” he said.
Toilets which have been completed lack quality
Toilets which have been completed lack quality or have not followed proper norms.
Doors of many toilets broke even before they were used by the pilgrims or saints. At many places, contractors have not built ramps for the toilets which might make the area muddy and dirty.
Many have also criticized the huge amount of money being spent in the construction.
Around Rs 21,000 is being spent on each toilet while Rs 16,000 has been allocated for each bathroom and Rs 9,900 for a urinal.
However, the government, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, had allotted only Rs 12,000 for each permanent toilet to connect septic tanks and overhead water tanks.
During Simhastha fair, only one septic tank will be built for up to 20 toilets, reducing the cost further. The material, to be used in toilet construction, would also be taken back by the contractor after the fair.
Leader of opposition at Ujjain Municipal Corporation Rajendra Vashishtha said unreasonably high prices were being paid for toilet construction and the quality aspects were not being monitored by the authorities.
“The BJP government had claimed that transparency would be followed and third-party assessment would be done but the same is not being made public,” he said.
There are no delays: Municipal commissioner
Municipal commissioner and mela officer Avinash Lavania said the number of toilets to be constructed increased recently but there were no delays.
“We have already constructed the basic structure at all the camps. Water tanks and taps are being put up in areas where saints have reported,” Lavania said.
He also said the contractor has to ensure house-keeping for the month-long fair and has to clear the area after the event so comparing it (cost of construction) with permanent toilets in houses was not the right thing.