Bhubaneswar: Odisha today waived user charges for use of public toilets in urban areas as a strategy to control the spreading of COVID-19.
The Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) Department of the State Government today issued a letter to all Municipal Commissioners, Executive Officers of municipalities and NACs directing them to waive user charges for use of public/community/hybrid toilets till August 31 to prevent spread of COVID 19.
The letter issued by Principal Secretary H&UD Department G Mathivathanan has pointed out that pandemic COVID-19 has hit hard on the lives & livelihoods of daily wage earners and street vendors in the State.
It says that to ameliorate the condition, Urban Wage Employment Initiative [UWEI] has been launched in the State under which various development activities in the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) have been taken up.
“It is expected that these activities will add to the pressure on the existing sanitation systems in the ULBs. It should be our endeavour to create a better and user-friendly sanitation spectrum for ease of living in the urban areas & the use of Public Toilets / Community Toilets / Hybrid Toilets should be encouraged not only to maintain the ODF status but also as a strategy to control spreading of infection,” the Principal Secretary has explained in the letter.
The letter further says that the outsourced agencies who are maintaining these toilets are collecting user charges ranging from Rs 2 to Rs 10 (approximately) for use of the toilet/bathing facility.
It has pointed out that exchange of money in small denominations (both in coins & currencies) in the toilet complex for use at this point of epidemic time is extremely dangerous as they may cause spread of infections and hence to be avoided in public interests.
“You are therefore requested to allow general public “User’s charge-free toilet and bathing facilities” in all PT/CT/HT, including those maintained by Sulabh International and other service providing agencies till 31.08.2020 without compromising the standards of hygiene in the toilet complex. The maintenance cost of the toilet complex may be appropriately & reasonably compensated by the ULBs. If the outsourced agencies are not agreeable for a reasonable compensation then the agencies may be replaced by an SHG / Federation / Community Interest Group [CIG] invoking the powers vested under the Epidemic Act and other regulations in this regard,” the letter clarified.