Greater Chennai Corporation decided to rope in corporates to maintain toilets under CSR after a private firm adopted a public toilet in Panagal Park. But it failed to receive even a single response
In a big embarrassment to the officials, so far only one individual has approached the Corporation expressing interest to take up the maintenance of the toilets. Earlier, the civic body had floated an expression of interest (EoI) inviting corporate firms, banks, consortium and others. The move was taken to utilise the corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund from the companies. However, not a single response has come from any firm so far.
What is troubling the officials is, even the individual who expressed interest has gone cold over the initiative after the initial enthusiasm.
“We could not trace the only person who had expressed interest through e-mail. Initially, claiming to be an individual, the person wanted to maintain two toilet buildings. But after showing initial interest, he stopped replying to our e-mails,” a Chennai Corporation official said.
This has forced the civic body to consider floating another EoI inviting corporate firms. The officials said the Corporation would float fresh EoI after relaxing some of the conditions.
Presently, the civic body is spending around Rs 15 crore per year to maintain the toilets in all the 15 zones.
The idea to hand over the upkeep of the toilets to private firms came about after a private firm named ZRII adopted a public toilet in Panagal Park in T Nagar under its corporate social responsibility initiative. This encouraged the civic body to invite corporate firms.
“To address basic needs and ensure the dignity of all our citizens, Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) aims to provide safe, accessible, clean, and economically sustainable public toilets across the city. Due to resource constraints, GCC seeks to achieve this objective by working with all stakeholders, including the private sector,” the civic body said while floating the EoI.
To make it convenient for the corporate companies, the Chennai Corporation had added that the interested firms could select any public toilets located across the city as per their choice. Also, they were allowed to adopt more than one toilet complex. The interested firms would have to maintain the public toilets for three years.
As per data from the civic body, there are 1,245 public toilets in the city with a total seating capacity of 7,888. Of these, 872 are conventional toilets with a total seating capacity of 6,797. Tenders have been floated to procure 15 mobile toilets, officials said.
“While floating the EoI, we had expected the reputed companies would adopt public toilets surrounding their premises. Despite allowing advertisements on the walls (which would have been an added incentive for private firms), we could not receive the expected response,” the official said.
In January, the civic body conducted a meeting with the representatives of corporate firms and banks at its headquarters, Ripon Building. During the meeting, Corporation Commissioner G Prakash implored them to adopt the facilities. Banks were told they could to install ATM kiosks at the toilet premises that they adopt.
As the Chennai Corporation has failed to properly maintain public toilets or attract CSR fund for this purpose, the residents, especially those who are living in slums and economically backward localities, are the most affected.
“A few weeks ago, when I had gone to Perambur bus stand, I wanted to relieve myself. So I went to a public toilet near the bus stand. But it was in such a disgusting condition that I rushed back without using it. It is the poor maintenance of public toilets that forces public to urinate or defecate in public place,” complained A Rajkumar, a resident of Kodambakkam.
New toilet facilities:
Meanwhile, the Greater Chennai Corporation has taken up the construction of 161 public toilets that would have 340 seats. Of them, 48 toilets would be conventional toilets while 22 would be eco-toilets.
The civic body has planned She-toilets at 84 locations. These would be exclusively for women, which are proposed to be set up under Nirbhaya funds. According to a Corporation official, the She-Toilets would have safety features including hooter alarm and sensor-based facilities. The toilets would also have kiosks from which women can get sanitary products.
As per the central government norms, all urban local bodies should have one toilet seat for every 35 men and one seat for every 25 women. Also, urban local bodies should have one bath unit per 50 users. Even though the public toilets in the city are in poor condition, the civic body had included public toilets in Google Maps, using which the users could find the location and direction of the facilities.