Planning Commission spent Rs 35 lakhs on hi-tech toilets, issued 60 smart cards to selective users

New Delhi, June 6: At a time when the Planning Commission has redefined poverty level as one where a man can spend less than Rs 32 a day, the Commission itself has spent Rs 35
planning commission spent rs 35 lakhs on hi tech...
India TV News Desk June 06, 2012 16:06 IST
New Delhi, June 6: At a time when the Planning Commission has redefined poverty level as one where a man can spend less than Rs 32 a day, the Commission itself has spent Rs 35 lakhs on two hi-tech toilets in Yojana Bhavan here.



Smart cards have been issued to 60 persons for "restricted use" of the toilets, keeping the hoi polloi away. CCTV cameras have been installed outside these toilets, which officials say, will help in tracking thieves who take away costly toilet fittings.

Renowned RTI activist Subhash Agrawal has sought all the details and file notings relating to the "renovation" of these hi-tech toilets.

"This money has been spent on renovation, mind you, and not on construction", cautions Agrawal.

Out of the Rs 35 lakhs,  Rs 5.19 lakh were spent on “door access control system”, which allows only 60 people provided with smart cards to use these international airport-grade restrooms.

The reply to Subhash Agrawal's application also reveals that the plan panel wanted to install CCTV cameras in the corridors outside these toilets — to check theft of the bathroom fittings. Estimates of the cost have been sought from the central public works department.

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Another plan panel note spells out why this is not money down the drain.

“Things like disturbing/breaking of sanitary appliances are taking place frequently.... Very high dignitaries visit Yojana Bhawan in connection with official work. In addition to this, non-official members of different committees visit Yojana Bhawan for attending meetings,” the note says.

It adds that damaged or defunct sanitary fittings portray the commission in poor light before the visiting dignitaries.

The commission's reply to the RTI plea says: “Cost of installation of door access control system is Rs 5,19,426 for two toilets. Cost of renovation of (the) two toilets... is Rs 30,00,305.”

An earlier noting that proposed the toilet upgrade said these two loos would be renovated as a pilot project, after which a decision would be taken on renovating three other toilets in the building.

The revelations come months after the commission faced accusations of insensitiveness over its declared poverty criteria: a per head, per day expenditure of Rs 26 in the villages and Rs 32 in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission today termed it

as routine maintenance and upgradation work and said it was “unfortunate” to call it a wasteful expenditure. 

“While the amount of Rs 30 lakh being mentioned is correct, an impression is being created that this has been spent on two toilets. This is totally false because these toilet blocks have multiple seats in addition to separate facility for the differently abled.

Each of these blocks can be simultaneously used by approximately ten people”, a statement from the Commission said.

“It is unfortunate that what is routine maintenance and upgradation is being projected as wasteful expenditure”, the Commission said.

It said because there have been instances of pilferages in the newly constructed toilets, “an access-control system was initially tried but not found feasible in practice”. 

The smart card based access control system had cost over Rs five lakh for two toilets which were renovated at an additional cost of Rs 30 lakh, the RTI reply has said.  The Commission said that the toilets being repaired or renovated are public toilet blocks and not private toilets for senior officials or Members.

“A common complaint over the years was the poor quality of the toilets in the building - a complaint made not just by the ministers and foreign dignitaries who visit, but also by the staff and the journalists”, the statement said. 

It said during renovation it was found that old plumbing and sewerage systems had deteriorated, and needed almost complete replacement and Fire control systems also had to be added, in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile,  the Planning Commission today termed it as routine maintenance and upgradation work and said it was “unfortunate” to call it a wasteful expenditure.

“While the amount of Rs 30 lakh being mentioned is correct, an impression is being created that this has been spent on two toilets. This is totally false because these toilet blocks have multiple seats in addition to separate facility for the differently abled. Each of these blocks can be simultaneously used by approximately ten people”, a statement from the Commission said.

“It is unfortunate that what is routine maintenance and upgradation is being projected as wasteful expenditure”, the Commission said.

It said because there have been instances of pilferages in the newly constructed toilets, “an access-control system was initially tried but not found feasible in practice”.

The smart card based access control system had cost over Rs five lakh for two toilets which were renovated at an additional cost of Rs 30 lakh, the RTI reply has said.

The Commission said that the toilets being repaired or renovated are public toilet blocks and not private toilets for senior officials or Members.

“A common complaint over the years was the poor quality of the toilets in the building - a complaint made not just by the ministers and foreign dignitaries who visit, but also by the staff and the journalists”, the statement said.

It said during renovation it was found that old plumbing and sewerage systems had deteriorated, and needed almost complete replacement and Fire control systems also had to be added, in accordance with the regulatory requirements.
 
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