Toilets go ‘missing’ from public places

They have become white elephants for the GHMC

A large number of public toilets installed on footpaths and road margins across the city ahead of Swachh Bharat rankings are being progressively dismantled reportedly owing to the high recurring costs of maintenance.

At several locations in Serilingampally and Kukatpally zones, the toilets have disappeared overnight, making way for Haritha Haram saplings during the last two months.

“I have counted at least four to five toilet boxes missing in the area around my home. They were set up only recently,” said Raj Kumar, a resident of Gachibowli.

Between August and October last year, the GHMC went on a spree of installing public toilets, most of them box type and pre-fabricated. As per the data revealed by the GHMC, a total of 7,400 public toilets were installed in the city, at 3,500 locations.

According to sources, close to ₹100 crore of funds have been spent on installation of these toilets, while ₹20-25 crore had to be earmarked for annual maintenance.

Maintenance of the toilets was given out to private agencies through tender process, with the brief that they should clean the toilets at least five times in commercial areas and three times at other places every day.

The corporation also claimed that it aimed to increase the number of public toilets to 10,000 by January this year.

The civic body could not keep up its claim, but on the contrary, hundreds of toilets from several locations are now being removed.

What’s more, at several locations, the toilets have fallen into disuse owing to reluctance of the public to use them.

Doors and latches of several more are broken.

Officials say that the toilets have become white elephants for the corporation, as the equipment inside is found either damaged or stolen repeatedly.

“We’re forced to replace the broken or stolen parts from time to time. Agencies responsible for maintenance merely take care of hygiene, and not security,” an official informed.

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