SDMC to convert high-end toilets to shops and kiosks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious <g data-gr-id="33">Swachh</g> Bharat Mission might have attracted several agencies to contribute to <g data-gr-id="37">it</g> but the scheme has failed to impress the BJP-ruled South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). The latter has thus decided to convert unused high-end toilets to milk and vegetable shops, among others as the SDMC’s ambitious plans for the facilities have not materialised.
The unified Corporation, in 2010, had announced to construct as many as 216 high-end toilets in posh locations in South <g data-gr-id="30">Delhi</g> but the project was put in a limbo by the SDMC after unearthing irregularities.
Aiming to construct high-end toilets before the Commonwealth Games, the erstwhile Corporation had announced the project along with commercial complexes in the area. Nine bidders had come forward and had constructed model complexes.
The project was executed on the basis that bidders would construct toilets on 70 <g data-gr-id="34">per cent</g> area with remaining 30 <g data-gr-id="35">per cent</g> that was to fully serve commercial purposes. The upper floors of the complex would also be used by the bidder for commercial activities. Even if the concessionaire did not end up getting the contract, he would retain ownership of the site all on prime locations for 30 years. The Corporation was supposed to receive one-time concession fee of Rs 10 crore and then Rs 20 lakh per year for the entire premises.
A year after announcing the project, residents welfare associations of the area objected to it. The local bodies raised questions over allowing commercial activity on land meant for public utilities.
Fingers were also raised on the terms of the contract, which gave real estate rights to a private company for a pittance. Realising the fact that the project was not feasible, the then mayor and standing committee had given anticipatory approval for the project but later they decided to scrap the project. Following the development, the bidders and one of the RWAs took the matter to court.
The RWA wanted the complexes to go while concessionaire sought for compensation as they had built the structures which were never used. In 2013, the SDMC announced a vigilance inquiry after the CAG started a probe in 2012 on instructions of the high <g data-gr-id="42">court,</g> and later said that the documents given were inadequate. Now, the Corporation has decided to tell the high court about alternative uses of the building. Among the options suggested are milk and vegetable booths, e-governance kiosks, railway booking offices, space for ironing of clothes, public libraries, recreation centres and gyms.
“The matter is sub-judice hence we can not comment on it. As the court has asked to suggest alternatives, we have been looking other options for the facilities,” said Radhey <g data-gr-id="28">Shayam</g> Sharma, Chairman of Standing Committee.