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Civic tussle hurdle to public toilets in town

Residents continue to suffer owing to the dilapidated condition of public toilets in the town and the civic body’s reluctance to build new ones.

At present, there are only nine public toilets in different spots of the town and these were constructed in 1972.

Darbhanga Municipal Corporation, five months ago, cancelled an agreement it made with an NGO to construct six public toilets at different spots, while no new bidding has been made as yet.

The non-government organisation, All India Environment and Educational Social Welfare Society, had made an agreement with the civic body for construction of modern public toilets at six different places.

According to the agreement based on build, operate and transfer mode, the civic body had to allot land for construction the toilets, while the NGO had to invest capital.

After construction of the toilets, the NGO would have had to operate them for 25 years and then transfer them to the civic body.

Such an agreement was made with then municipal commissioner KBN Singh in April 2013.

The new municipal commissioner, Parmeshwar Ram, cancelled the agreement, saying the government would incur losses if the NGO were given the work.

Parmeshwar told The Telegraph: “The way in which the agreement was made with All India Environment and Educational Social Welfare Society was not fair, as open bidding was not done for construction of the public toilets. The NGO would have to use about 2 acres of government land for construction but it would not give even a single penny in return. According to the agreement made with the civic body, it would manage the affairs of public toilets for 25 years before it would transfer those to the civic body.”

Ram said: “What would the civic body get in return for allotment of the land? I had asked the NGO to work on a public-private partnership mode as we are giving it land and it is using its capital. The profit should be equally divided between the civic body and the NGO but the latter refused to do so. Since we are incurring revenue losses in getting public toilets constructed with this NGO, we cancelled the agreement. We are exploring other options for the construction.”

The existing lavatories are in a dilapidated condition but the civic body generates revenues of around Rs 16.5 lakh each year.

Even though there has been a rise in the population since the 1970s, public facilities remained the same.

The population of the town is over Rs 2 lakh, while several thousand people come to town from villages for work and use the public lavatories.

Sources said the NGO was ready to spend over Rs 3 crore on the public toilet project and wanted to construct over 16 lavatories in various parts of the town.

The chairman of the NGO, Ram Kumar Rai, had pressured the previous municipal commissioner to make the agreement when he was transferred from Darbhanga.

Ram could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.