Public toilets to get a makeover, just wait for 9 years

The survey has been carried out in toilets in zones 7,8,9 and 10 under phase two. And tenders for packages 3 and 4 would be floated and works executed in a phased manner, sources said
A dilapidated public toilet on Marina Beach
A dilapidated public toilet on Marina Beach

CHENNAI: As majority of public toilets in the city are either closed or poorly maintained, many interior roads are used for open defecation.

Mercifully, toilets in Marina beaches are well-maintained. To make sure the beach is clean, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has planned to construct new toilets in four phases.

The phase one work is expected to begin soon focusing on Marina Beach, and two other zones – Royapuram and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar.

To improve the condition of public toilets, the project is divided into four packages. Recently, a survey was undertaken in three zones – Marina (Zone 9), Royapuram (Zone 5) and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar (Zone 6) to understand the condition of toilets. Each toilet in the respective zones was geo-tagged and mapped to know the number of public toilets in the certain area.

Dirty pathway towards a public toilet on Wall Tax Road
Dirty pathway towards a public toilet on Wall Tax Road

“After the survey, these toilets are classified in 3 categories such as new construction, where the toilets should be demolished and rebuilt. Followed by major retrofitting of the toilets which requires a substantial amount of civil work to make it usable for the people. The public toilets that need minor rectification belong under the minor retrofitting category,” stated GCC Chief Engineer (General), S Rajendiran.

As many as 3,270 toilet seats will be renovated and constructed in 372 places in zones 5, 6 and Marina. Of which, minor refurbishment will be done in 2,166 toilets in 194 places. At least 90 places in these 3 zones have 662 newly constructed toilets. Several toilets are poorly maintained and damaged, so the civic body authorities carry out renovation works in 442 places.

A free toilet remains locked
A free toilet remains locked

The project is structured as a hybrid annuity model under public private partnership projects. Payments to the concessionaire would be based solely on the performance of services provided and will be monitored by an independent team using key performance indicators.

“This would ensure that the toilets are being maintained to the highest standards. The tender evaluation is completed and GCC is awaiting a GO to award the work. It’d be a nine-year project, where one year will be given for design, build and commissioning. The remaining eight years will be for operation and maintenance,” the official said.

The survey has been carried out in toilets in zones 7,8,9 and 10 under phase two. And tenders for packages 3 and 4 would be floated and works executed in a phased manner, sources said.

A toilet for persons with disability is locked
A toilet for persons with disability is locked

Though the civic body authorities claim that the public toilets are being maintained by the conservancy workers in the city. It is not providing satisfactory results, as many public toilets remained closed for several months. At some places, though toilets are functional, there is no water facility, or even a dustbin to dispose of sanitary napkins.

During the Pongal festival, thousands of people gathered at Marina beach. Though there were several toilets, the public stated that the city corporation should increase the number of toilets. Because when the toilets get overcrowded, some people ended up defecating in open areas.

“We were relieved that the local body authorities have built the public toilet. But on most occasions, it has been closed. Sanitary workers visit the site occasionally during daytime and sometimes close it immediately. And people urinate next to the toilet, and the entire stretch stinks. There is a corporation school nearby, and the sanitary workers are not bothered to clean the locality,” said Saraswathy, a resident of Elephant gate in Royapuram zone (zone 5).

Similarly, a public toilet was newly constructed at Nelson Manickam Road in Nungambakkam. But, only the women toilet has been opened, where the male toilet remained closed. The public is forced to defecate in open spaces.

“Separate toilets were constructed for men and women as a part of this foot-over construction but till date the men’s toilet has not been opened. Since there is a pay and use toilet on the other side, this has not been opened yet. We cannot afford to pay Rs 10 every now and then. We’ve even requested the zonal officials to open it, but no steps have been taken so far,” says a shopkeeper in Nungambakkam. “Workers sweep the paths but they don’t clean the women toilet here. At night, most men drink and loiter. The entire stretch becomes messy.”

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