Pax unhappy as charges of portable toilets at Secunderabad station not uniform

The officials added that they regularly impose penalties on ‘pay and use’ toilet facilities in cases of overpricing and irregulated charges.
Two of the five washroom facilities are at the far ends of platform number one, and one each at platforms two, three, four, five, and 10.
Two of the five washroom facilities are at the far ends of platform number one, and one each at platforms two, three, four, five, and 10.

HYDERABAD : Waiting for his train inside the premises of Secunderabad railway station, Karan Bhindekar, a passenger travelling to Nagpur, used the makeshift toilet facility at Platform number two and started leaving.

Just then, the supervisor reminded him to pay. Contending with the supervisor, Bhindekar told TNIE, “I thought the washrooms were free of charge to use as the station is government-operated.”

As the station’s administrative buildings are undergoing renovation, old washrooms have been shut down and the new ones - at least five - are operating out of chargeable porta cabins displaying South Central Railways’ banners at least for the past six months.

Two of the five washroom facilities are at the far ends of platform number one, and one each at platforms two, three, four, five, and 10. While there is a common contractor for the maintenance, the charges levied by them are not uniform, as found by TNIE. Remarkably, the prices of these two washrooms running on platform 1, one of the busiest of the ten platforms at the station, vary from each other.

Male passengers at one of these two washrooms - right in front of the crew booking lobby and running room - are asked to pay Rs 10 for urinals and Rs 20 for toilet facilities. On the contrary, women have to pay Rs 10 for both facilities. These charges resonate with the rates of the sole concrete-structured facility on platform 10, another bustling platform on the station.

“Rs 10 is quite a high charge as compared to usual washrooms. It should be free of charge as many commuters belong to lower income groups,” Marri Amma, a passenger from West Godavari district, told TNIE.

Notably, for the same purposes, the rates of the second toilet facility on platform number one, located near the exit towards the TSRTC bus stand, come down to Rs 5 and Rs 10 for men. For women, it remains the same - Rs 10.

However, the facilities running on the rest of the three platforms charge Rs 2 and Rs 3 for men using them for different purposes. For women, it stays at Rs 3. Most of the toilet facilities do not even display the designated rate charts prescribed by the SCR authorities.

Ensuring action, officials of the commercial department, which supervise the sanitation facilities, told TNIE, “According to the prescribed rates, urinals can be used for free of cost, toilet facilities for Rs 3, and bathing for Rs 5. However, the staff escapes from displaying it in order to overcharge.”

The officials added that they regularly impose penalties on ‘pay and use’ toilet facilities in cases of overpricing and irregulated charges.

“Apart from counselling, we regularly impose penalties on overcharging, with a minimum of Rs 2,000 and a maximum of Rs 10,000. But still, the vendors resort to the same practice after some time,” added an official.

A staff member of the ‘pay and use’ toilet facility told TNIE, “We have to complete our own daily targets and sublease agreement. After all this, whatever is left is our earning.”

The contractor, Padmaja Reddy, also assured TNIE of looking into the matter and resolving it at the earliest.

Meanwhile, B Charry, a passenger, told TNIE, “The washrooms aren’t cleaned properly, and mostly a foul smell is coming from them. It can lead to some health hazards for passengers.” The leakage from taps of one of the facility on platform one made the entire floor damp.

Besides, the washrooms in the four waiting halls of the station were found to be well maintained by the housekeeping staff, who claimed they clean them nine times a day.

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