Nagpur Municipal Corporation -Sulabh 'Pay and use' toilet contract under cloud-TIMES OF INDIA
NAGPUR: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation is planning to construct public toilets that would be later handed over to Sulabh International to manage under pay and use scheme for 30 years. The decision is a breach of statutory responsibilities under Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (MMC) Act, 2012, that clearly says that the corporation could lease out pay and use toilets for only three-year period.
Social activist, lawyer and Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti secretary Vinod Tiwari, who sought information under RTI Act, said the entire tender process is gone through in a highly objectionable and illegal manner only to help pre-selected parties.
NMC recently decided to construct pay and use toilets by spending Rs 96.74 lakh. The toilets would be constructed at Ravi Nagar Square, Maharajbagh Road, Siraspeth (near Great Nag road bridge), Colonel Bagh, Labhantanda, Juni Shukrawari, Prajapati Chowk, near front gate of Bhandewadi dump yard, and near YMCA office on Amravati road.
The standing committee, led by its chairman Avinash Thakre, unanimously approved public funds to the tune of several lakhs rupees for this project illegally and unlawfully, Tiwari claimed. Contrary to the rules, funds were given to the said parties directly for construction of toilets. Long-term contracts of 30 years have also been signed and executed for running the facilities by the said contractors. While NMC gets paid nothing, the contractors were earning lakhs per month from the facilities run on pay and use model, Tiwari said.
The reply to RTI query revealed there is deliberate and wilful neglect by NMC administration especially officials of Slum Project and Health Departments. "They deliberately ignored other contractors who proposed to construct toilets on their own and implement pay and use for a specific time period," he said.
The civic body constructed 56 pay and use toilet block buildings either by spending crores of tax payers' money or funds made available by the state government. Of these, 46 are being run by Sulabh International, Tiwari informed.
Besides, the people working at these pay and use toilets were not being paid minimum wages, provident funds, ESIC, welfare fund, leave, weekly holidays, 8 hours duty etc, benefits which should have been given statutorily, as they are in category of Scheduled Employment List of state government's labour welfare department under the provisions of various laws applicable to NMC and its agencies-contractors carrying out statutory duties on behalf of NMC as per MMC Act, Tiwari pointed out.
Tiwari, who submitted a memorandum to municipal commissioner Shyam Wardhane, demanded that the contract with Sulabh be scrapped.
Standing committee chairman Avinash Thakre claimed NMC was following government guidelines for constructing pay and use toilets. He added, "as NMC doesn't get any viable plan from any other parties so Sulabh had been appointed to run these toilets."