As reported by Kalpana Verma on January 16, 2008 on

Paying to use a WR toilet? It should be free

Paying to use a WR toilet? It should be free

Mumbai, January 15 Have you been paying to use a public toilet at any Western Railway station apart from Churchgate, Bandra Terminus, Nallasopara and Virar? If you have, here is startling news: The fee you are paying is lining the pockets of various private individuals and officials, since contracts worth Rs 50 lakh for the maintenance of these toilets were terminated a year ago.

The contract for pay-and-use toilets at WR’s stations, held for a five-year period by Ambedkar Vichar Prasar Samitee, Berojgar Welfare Society and some other societies was terminated in January 2007, confirmed B R Shukla, who runs these organisations. Though these toilets should now be free for commuters to use until fresh contracts are awarded, commuters continue to cough up the sum while WR loses lakhs of rupees every month.

Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of WR Sharat Chandrayan admitted that while tenders for the toilets’ maintenance had been invited, contracts were still to be awarded. “Western Railway is planning to start a new system of ‘Renovate And Transfer’ of the toilets in Mumbai division. This is at a commissioning stage,” Chandrayan said. “Tenders have been floated.”

With nobody to clean these toilets since January, WR ordered authorities to get railway staff at individual station to look after their maintenance. However, sources said, several officials at various stations roped in private players, for a fee that never made it to the railway’s coffers. “If there is no contract, how can railway coffers make a penny from the pay-and-use toilets?” asked a senior official not wishing to be named. At key railway stations—Churchgate, Bandra Terminus, Nallasop-ara and Virar—the WR awarded short-term contracts for four to five months’ time. All other stations continue to remain withuot a toilet maintenance contractor.

When Newsline sought details under the Right to Information Act (RTI) about the maintenance contracts for the WR stations’ toilets, the information received was factually incorrect. The response, dated July 2007, to an RTI query showed that contracts were still in place. Asked why faulty information had been provided under RTI, Chandrayan said: “I will have to check this.”