Like all government schemes, this, too, was started with a good intention. But it failed to yield the desired results for want of proper planning and maintenance.
The government has spent Rs 2.57 crore to procure and install condom vending machines in Mumbai, but the sales have been far from encouraging.
Experts say the lack of planning and research in selecting the installation sites and proper maintenance has contributed to the failure.
Of the total 3,530 condom vending machines (CVMs) installed in the city, about 875 are non-functional. Sale from the rest has been at an average rate of one condom per machine per day, whereas the maximum vending capacity of a machine is 22 packs per day, each containing two condoms.
These details were revealed in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application, a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times. Rahul Verma, a Delhi-based activist and founder of non-governmental organisation Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects, had filed the RTI with National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
“Sometimes customers are drunk and if the machine is slow, they punch it and break it down,” said Himanshu Bhardwaj, national manager, Hindustan Latex Limited, Family Planning Promotional Trust. The company is responsible for maintaining CVMs across the country.
The CVMs are currently installed at railway stations, petrol pumps, public toilets, paan shops and other public areas. The sale of four pieces per machine per day would make the project successful, he added.
Revenue generated through condom sales was only Rs 2.76 lakh till June this year.
“Machines have been installed in public places, sometimes on roads and railway stations. Who wants to draw a condom in public glare?” asked Verma.
According to health activists, the failure of the CVMs is not surprising. “Installation sites are inappropriate as proper research was not done before installing the machines,” said Dr I.S. Gilada, founder of People’s Health Organisation, which works for HIV and AIDS related issues.
Officials of NACO and Mumbai Districts Aids Control Society could not be contacted for comments.