Hyderabad: Thousands of public toilets have gone missing in the city post Swachh Survekshan and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls. Incidentally, officials are refusing to reveal data pertaining to the amount spent on erecting these toilets across the city before the Swachh Survekshan and municipal polls.
The civic body had in January claimed that about 7,800 public toilets had been installed at 3,500 locations all across the municipal corporation limits, while efforts will be made to meet the state government’s target of having 10,000 such toilets. The corporation went on to claim that Hyderabad now has the highest number of public toilets compared to any other city in the country.
Most of these facilities have been installed under Build, Operate and Transfer basis involving different agencies.
Though installation of 10,000 public toilets across GHMC limits should have been completed by January, GHMC took the stand that their construction had got delayed mainly due to Covid-19 pandemic. Officials maintained that the balance 2,200-odd toilets will be installed at the earliest, as tenders had already floated for them.
The municipal corporation further asserted that these toilets will be well maintained by different agencies, including a few self-help groups. For this, GHMC has earmarked Rs. 3,500 per toilet per month. The annual expenditure for maintenance of these toilets is estimated to be between Rs. 22–25 crore. Of the 6,000 new public toilets, around 1,000 have been installed in LB Nagar zone, 1,000 in Kukatpally, 1,034 in Charminar, 1,000 in Serilingampally, 905 in Khairatabad and 1,032 in Secunderabad zone.
The civic body has, however, taken a 'U' immediately after conclusion of GHMC polls and Swachh Survekshan survey. Apparently, this means all publicity about constructing the public toilets was to only serve these two purposes and increase Hyderabad’s rank at the all-India level. Building public toilets had also been extensively used for campaigning by the ruling party, with many hoardings erected during polls.
The corporation has now changed its mind and feels having a huge number of public toilets on city footpaths and arterial stretches is not a good idea. It feels such toilets at every 500-metre distance will not only give a shoddy look to the city, but also make the city unclean due to their improper maintenance.
Incidentally, a top bureaucrat, who instructed GHMC authorities to set up public toilets in the first place, later ordered that they be removed. Following his instructions, the civic authorities dismantled around 1,000 public toilets in Baghlingampally, Uppal, Mettuguda, Sangeet Road, Panjagutta, LB Nagar, Moosarambagh and other areas.
A senior GHMC official, on condition of anonymity, said the corporation's advertisement wing has officially removed 327 toilets on footpaths and other arterial stretches. It would remove another 20 of them in a couple of days. The official disclosed that the engineering wing too has dismantled over 500 toilets and will relocate them at city bus stops.
"Despite inviting tenders, private agencies have not turned up to take up maintenance of public toilets. Citing this, higher authorities have decided to remove the toilets due their unhygienic usage by citizens", the official added....