BHUBANESWAR: Though four years have passed since Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) started building public toilets under the ambitious Project Samman, around 10 toilets have been constructed so far and not even a single one is functioning. In 2012, the civic body had taken up the project to construct 27 public toilets at various locations in the City. The project was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and executed by National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC).
The move was aimed at scoring high in run up to the Smart City race. The attempt worked well and supplemented the Capital City’s proposals, which ultimately concluded with Bhubaneswar topping the Smart City list. But later, the construction of community toilets was pushed to backburner. After a prolonged delay, the NBCC took up the construction work. However, it is struggling to hand over the toilets to BMC now as the civic body has not yet engaged any private or Government firm for operation and maintenance (O&M) work of the units.
As a result, most of the public toilets, which are ready for use, are yet to be made functional. Around 40 per cent of the toilets are at finishing stage. A glaring example of the civic body’s shoddy approach is a public toilet inside Janata Maidan which was inaugurated on the eve on Local Self Governance Day in 2015. The toilet fittings in the unit were stolen a few days after inauguration. While there is no one to take care of it, the modern toilet remains locked all the time. Other public toilets under the project are also facing similar situation. ontacted, NBCC sources said within two and a half months, two toilets will be handed over to BMC while there was no information about the future of the rest units. According to the proposal, 27 public toilets had to be constructed in three-phases at an estimated cost of `4.77 crore. The first phase of the project covered 11 public toilets with an estimated cost of `1.8 crore at Badagada, Samantarapur, Gopabandhu Square, Garage Square, Court area, Natala, Badagada Kalyan Mandap, City Womens’ College, Mahavir Square, Dumduma Square and Srijua Sqaure.
The second phase will cover 10 public toilets at a cost of `1.81 lakh at places like Sailashree Vihar, Market Building, Hanspal Square, Pahala, Sriya Square, IG Park, slum area near Science Park, Nabard Colony, Infosys area and Nabard Square. Similarly, six public toilets with an estimated cost of `1.15 crore were proposed in Palaspali, Lingaraj railway station, Jayadev Vihar square, Ramadevi University and two at Janata Maidan in third phase. Mayor AN Jena said, “We have sought guidelines from the Housing and Urban Development Department on selection criteria for an O&M firm.”