A public toilet complex, constructed under the Smart Cities Mission, at Kuruchikuppam in Puducherry remains closed even after it was completed a year and a half ago.
Puducherry was declared open defecation-free in 2018, but the lack of access to the toilet has forced people to relieve themselves in the open, residents say.
The government had taken up improvements to public toilet complexes at Kuruchikuppam and at a few other places in the Boulevard at an estimate of ₹68 lakh. The order was issued in July 2020 and the work was completed in 2021.
However, the toilet complex in Kuruchikuppam remains closed, causing difficulty to the residents and those visiting the coastal hamlet. Many residents, especially women and the elderly, have to depend on the nearest facility on the Beach Promenade.
“The delay in opening the facility has forced people, including fisherfolk, to relieve themselves in the open. Toilets are built for public convenience and the delay in opening them is inconveniencing us. They should be opened immediately,” said Selvaraj, a fisherman.
Why the toilets remain closed could not be ascertained immediately. But a section of residents said the higher rate quoted by maintenance contractors was the main reason.
The facility is dilapidated now. The windows have been damaged, with dust and debris strewn all over the place. According to Raja, a resident of Kuruchikuppam, “Locals who visit the beach during the Masi Magam festival have to walk several streets to use the public toilets at Gingee Salai and the Beach Promenade. It is unfortunate that the toilet complex here is not functional.”
A senior official of the Puducherry Smart City Development Limited (PSCDL) said improvements to the public toilets in the Boulevard were taken up with funds earmarked under the Smart Cities Mission. “The work was completed and the facility at Kuruchikuppam has been handed over to the Local Administration Department. It is for the local body concerned to decide how and when to make it available to members of the public,” he said.