A Public toilet in Hyderabad changed into a shop. (DC image)
Hyderabad: Thousands of public toilets, like the ones near Saroornagar lake and at Jubilee Hills Road No. 45, which were missing post GHMC elections have
now been converted into shops.
The civic body had in January 2019 claimed that about 7,800 public toilet seats have been installed at 3,500 locations in its jurisdiction, which would be enhanced to 10,000, a target set by the State government. It also claimed Hyderabad has the highest number of public toilets among all Indian cities.
Although the 10,000 seats target was to be completed by January, there was considerable delay because of Covid-19. Officials informed GHMC that the remaining 2,200 and odd toilet seats would be installed soon and that tenders to execute the works had been floated.
Most of the facilities have been installed on a ‘build operate and transfer’ basis involving different agencies. Meanwhile, the corporation has entrusted their maintenance and upkeep to different agencies, including some self-help groups.
The GHMC has been spending around Rs. 3,500 per seat per month for an overall annual expenditure of about Rs 22 crore to Rs 25 crore. Of the 6,000 new public toilets, around 1,000 have been installed in LB Nagar zone, 1,000 in Kukatpally zone, 1,034 in Charminar zone, 1,000 in Serilingampally zone, 905 in Khairatabad zone and 1,032 in Secunderabad zone.
After the initial enthusiasm to accomplish the ambitious initiative within the deadline, the corporation made a U-turn immediately after the GHMC polls and Swachh Suverkshan survey in 2020. Their reasoning has been that too many public toilets on the footpaths and arterial stretches were not a good augury. The argument goes that a public toilet after every 500 metres not only gives a shoddy look to the city but also is tough to maintain.
Ironically, the top bureaucrat who instructed the corporation authorities to set up public toilets is the same person who called for their removal. Following his diktat, over 1,000 public toilets have since been removed at Baghlingampally, Uppal, Mettuguda, Sangeet road, Panjagutta, LB Nagar and Moosarambagh, among other locations.
Responding to the issue, a senior civic official, requesting anonymity, told Deccan Chronicle that the corporation has removed over 2,000 toilets as they were obstructing movements of pedestrians. He said that the others have been lying vacant since the GHMC polls as private agencies did not turn up to maintain them.
On many toilets being converted into shops, the official said that nothing has come to his notice and they would initiate action if they come to know of such developments.