A fresh controversy is brewing in the Kochi Corporation over the establishment of green toilets in the city.
The LDF councillors in the Finance Standing committee have recorded their dissent over the release of funds for setting up three units in the city.
The corporation had already established seven such units following criticism that it had failed to provide the public utility service in a city like Kochi where large number of people flock every day.
The absence of public toilets for women in the city too had put the corporation in a tight spot. The original proposal was to set up 10 such units in the city on pay and use mode.
The Forest Industries Travancore Limited, a public sector company, was the only agency to respond to the tenders and the work was allotted to them for Rs.7.91 lakh a unit. The company had also established units at Kacheripady, Town Hall, and Fort Kochi. It had also won orders for setting up the unit at Palarivattom, Vyttila and Ernakulam Market.
As the request for the release of funds reached the Finance Standing Committee, the LDF members M. Anilkumar, Sojan Antony and P.S. Rajam recorded their dissent in releasing the funds to the company.
In bio-toilets, the waste is broken down into odourless gas and water. The compact toilet is considered ideal for city centres.
According to Mr. Anilkumar, the work was awarded to the firm without inviting tenders. The unilateral decision to allot the work to the public sector company without inviting tenders denied the corporation the opportunity to check whether the facility could be available at a competitive rate.
Moreover, the corporation lost the chance to find out whether any better technology was available in the market, he said.
The LDF also recorded its resentment against the manner in which the work was awarded by the Kochi Corporation.
Invoking the powers to give anticipatory clearance, the Mayor unilaterally cleared the project without permitting the committees concerned to discuss the project.
“The Mayor should sparingly exercise his right to give clearance for projects anticipating the permission of the council and allow the committees to take decision in a democratic manner,” he said.
At the same time, Soumini Jain, the chairperson of the Works Standing Committee of the corporation, said the opposition of the LDF councillors to the project, which is beneficial to the general public, was meaningless.
The opposition councillors who were now criticising the corporation for establishing the toilets were up in arms in the council one year ago against the delay in setting up the facility.
The previous LDF council could not establish even one such unit in the city. The LDF should support the civic administration for setting up such public utility facilities in the city, she said.