BANGALORE: Next time you visit a public toilet in the Southern areas of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, carry tissue paper without fail. That is, if you can bear to get past the dirt and the unbearable stench.
The contractors, who had signed up for the maintenance of public toilets in lieu of collecting user charges, have abandoned their contract agreement in view of failing profits. To make matters worse, the Water Board has threatened to disconnect their services for non-payment of bills.
The public toilets, generally known as Nirmala Souchalaya, have failed to pay their water bills since 2004 and they currently have to pay an outstanding amount of Rs 5,20,017.
The nine Nirmala Toilets, which have an outstanding payment, are situated in the nerve centre of Bangalore. They cater to people travelling on Bannerghatta Road and Kanakapura Road.
A group of residents applied for information through RTI regarding maintenance of toilets; following allegations of illegal and immoral activities in some abandoned toilets in South Bangalore.
“We don’t know the identity of the contractors and we were informed by a person who collects usage fee from public that the toilets are under the control of BBMP. But the BBMP does not reveal the names of the contractors.
Ultimately, common people suffer. If the water supply is disconnected for non-payment of bills or the toilets are not maintained well, then it is the responsibility of the BBMP to foot the bills and to employ someone to maintain the toilets,” said Kiran Kumar, an RTI activist.
The Superintendent Engineer of South Zone Bette Gowda said, “I have informed all Executive Engineers and Assistant Executive Engineers to trace the record of all contractors in charge of maintenance of these toilets. We cannot even think of disconnecting the water supply as it will inconvenience the public.
We will invite fresh bids on April 10. We will also ensure clean and hygienic public toilets within City Corporation limits. We will waive off the unpaid amount, if necessary, in the interest of public.”
Officials said that notices were sent to the nine toilets which defaulted on the payments.
“We had cut the water supply once, but the suffering of the people made us bend our rules and continued with the supply. We have approached the higher authorities and they told us that they will hold a meeting to discuss the issue in April,” he said.