Initiative to develop public toilets in Chennai begins this week

Private agencies will build the facilities and maintain them for eight years; identification of locations is likely to be completed soon

Updated - November 15, 2021 02:16 am IST

Published - November 15, 2021 01:04 am IST - CHENNAI

Slated for renovation:  The Chennai Corporation has identified 145 public toilets for demolition and reconstruction and 170 for major repairs.

Slated for renovation: The Chennai Corporation has identified 145 public toilets for demolition and reconstruction and 170 for major repairs.

The Greater Chennai Corporation will start the process of developing public toilets under public-private partnership (PPP) this week.

A meeting will be held on Monday to find ways to resolve the issues pertaining to public toilets in Chennai and other parts of the State. Officials of the Chennai Corporation, the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration and the private sector are to attend the meeting, which will be chaired by Municipal Administration Secretary Shiv Das Meena.

A pre-bid meeting with private entities for the development of modern toilets and integrated commercial buildings at 50 locations of the city will also be held this week.

Under the scheme, private agencies will develop public toilets and maintain them for eight years. Identification of locations is likely to be completed shortly.

Under Swachh Bharat Mission initiated in 2014, the city has to develop a public toilet for every 500 metres. Many of the existing 816 public toilets have remained locked or damaged.

Villivakkam resident V. Maran says the public toilet near the Villivakkam bus terminus has been closed for many months. “We have five famous temples that are more than 800 years old in the vicinity. Open urination has increased in such an area because of inadequate public toilets.” According to V. Rajagopal, president of Anna Nagar West Extension Phase II Residents Welfare Association, the residents have requested a modern public toilet at Officers Colony near the bus terminus. “Senior citizens visiting the area are using a park for open urination. We cannot prevent them, given their age. The construction of another toilet at Collector Nagar, Mogappair, has been stopped because of the opposition from a few residents of an apartment. The commercial area should have such facilities,” he says.

Public toilets in the city are in bad shape because of poor maintenance, faulty design and inferior quality of materials used in their construction. Several initiatives have been made in the past few years to improve them. But the city has not found a solution even after seven years of the implementation of Swachh Bharat.

The Corporation has identified 145 public toilets for demolition and reconstruction and 170 for major repairs. “The work is expected to be completed in six months,” says an official. According to estimates, more than 2,000 of the 7,600 seats in public toilets will be demolished and reconstructed. Another 3,000 will be closed for repairs. Finding a public toilet during this period is expected to be challenging for commuters, especially senior citizens.

Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi says the new toilets will be constructed with allocations from Singara Chennai 2.0, Swachh Bharat Mission and the civic body’s infrastructure and amenities fund. “We have also put up boards outside free toilets. We do not want anybody to collect money. We have taken action against the staff who had collected money for the use of free toilets. Most important thing is to ensure hygiene. It is a continuous challenge because many toilets are designed in accordance with the old standards. We need to make them more bright, with lot of air.”

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