Expensive toilets defended by Indian government

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Old 07-Jun-2012
Expensive toilets defended by Indian government

New Delhi India’s Planning Commission, which plots the country’s economic future, defended itself on Wednesday over a Rs3 million rupee (Dh198,714) bill for upgrading toilets.

The cost sparked outrage after a local activist unearthed the figure through a Right To Information request about work done on toilets at the commission’s headquarters in New Delhi.

The commission was forced to deny media reports that only two individual toilets were renovated and that they were reserved for senior staff who would access them via an electronic card system.

“It is unfortunate that what is routine maintenance and upgrading is being projected as wasteful expenditure,” it said in a press release.

According to the statement, the money will be used to renovate six toilet blocks, each of which can be used by “approximately” ten people.

“The toilets being repaired or renovated are public toilet blocks, and not private toilets for senior officials... these toilet blocks have multiple seats.”

Poor quality

The commission justified the high cost saying that “old plumbing and sewerage systems had deteriorated, and needed almost complete replacement”.

“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.” It said fire control systems also had to be added, in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

The influential body, which draws up India’s five-year economic plans, faced flak in March when it released poverty-related data which claimed that any Indian who spent just 44 cents a day was not “absolutely poor”.

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