Rs 35 lakh toilet renovation routine maintenance

New Delhi: The stink over renovation of two toilets in the Planning Commission at a huge cost raged across the political spectrum today but its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia sought to fend criticism saying the expenditure was on blocks of toilets meant for all.

Political parties including the ruling Congress attacked the expenditure of Rs 35 lakh on two toilets but the Planning Commission itself came up with a press release terming it as routine maintenance and upgradation work. To call it a a wasteful expenditure was unfortunate. Ahluwalia, who had earlier faced criticism over expenditure on his foreign trips, told reporters that expenditure of Rs 35 Lakh is not on two toilets but it is really a "major modernisation of toilet blocks in the Planning Commission which is a 50 year old building".

"When we needed to renovate it, we were told that both plumbing and pipes, not of individual toilet, but entire toilet block needed to be replaced…electricty work had to be replaced", he said. Ahluwalia said this is part of the Planning Commission`s renovation and upgradation program in which renovation of all the public toilets has to be done in two years. On the issue of access control system in the toilets, Ahluwalia said, it was for the ladies toilets because of security issues but later it was felt that it was not right and the project was dropped.

However, in the RTI reply, the Planning Commission had said "cost of installation of Door Access Control System is Rs 5,19,426 for two toilets. Cost of renovation of two toilets where the Door Access Control System is installed is Rs 30,00,350". Ahluwalia said funds spent on the project are budgeted and tendering process is done by CPWD. He said decision are taken by the administrative department and not by him.

The Commission`s press release said "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."