City not-so-beautiful: No clarity on advertisement fee leaves public toilets stinking in Chandigarh
Policy paralysis: Despite several meeting between UT, MC employees, issue remains unresolvedpunjab Updated: Jul 31, 2017 11:50 IST
Aspiring to become a ‘smart city’, Chandigarh has failed to even maintain its public toilets situated at various markets and green belts. With the contentious advertisement fee issue remaining unresolved despite several rounds of meetings between the UT and MC officials, the 300 public toilets in the city are a picture of neglect.
It was in 2014 that the civic body took over the maintenance of these public toilets from a Delhi-based company.
Thereafter, these toilets were handed over to the market welfare associations, with the MC paying Rs 12,500 per month per toilet as maintenance charges. However, the condition of toilets continued to deteriorate.
Following this, several contractors were engaged through short-term tenders. They were paid Rs 18,500 per month each toilet. Now, the MC started receiving complaints of overcharging and even poor maintenance against the contractors, forcing the MC to float a request for proposal (RFP) to operate and maintain 300 public toilets in the city.
- Total toilets: 300
- Run by private contractors: 240
- Maintenance fee: ₹18,500 per month per toilet
- Run by market welfare bodies: 60
- Maintenance fee: ₹12,500 per month per toilet
Two weeks after floating the RFP, the MC held a meeting with the bidders on April 21 this year. The bidders submitted several objections, mainly to the proposed advertisement fee. The MC assured them that it would take up the matter with the UT administration.
Thereafter, the civic body wrote to the UT finance secretary, requesting exemption from advertisement fee along with several other exemptions related to the Advertisement Control Order 1954. Several rounds of meetings have taken place between the MC and UT officials since then, but no solution could be found.
Meanwhile, the date of floating of tenders has been extended every 15 days for the past three months, in the absence of approval from the UT. Now, it has been deferred till September 15. The MC plans to award the contract for 15 years.
What is the issue?
MC is seeking advertisement fee exemption for public toilets from the UT administration. As per the Advertisement Control Order, 1954, the fee is not applicable on advertisements displayed on the public toilets. It is collected from individual advertisements on private buildings and shops. Even former UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh had clearly stated the question of exemption does not arise as advertisement fee on toilets was not applicable.
However, both the UT and MC still lack clarity. The MC even issued notices worth ₹25 crore to several contractors maintaining public toilets from 2003 onwards demanding fee. Having taken over the toilets in 2014, the MC floated a request for proposal to operate and maintain 300 public toilets in the city. The bidders objected to the advertisement fee, after which the MC wrote to the UT.
Now, MC commissioner B Purushartha has written to the finance secretary to seek clarity.
With the delay in the reply, the floating of tenders has been extended every 15 days for the past three months.
Picture of neglect
Public toilets are still being maintained under short-term tenders. In absence of proper checking, most toilets are unhygienic.