The European Union is set to give the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) a 10-lakh euro (Rs 6.5 crore) fund for construction of public urinals and to maintain cleanliness in city slums. This is the first time in history that the PMC is getting such a huge amount from the EU for any project, and will receive the funding on the basis of yearly instalments.
The NGO that has been working on the issue of scarcity of urinals in the city since the past several years however, is doubtful whether the fund would be used for the cause, as over half of the Rs 5.30 crore earmarked for toilets in last year’s budget is yet to be utilised.
Speaking on the civic body’s success in securing the EU funding, PMC’s Zonal Commissioner Suresh Jagtap said, “PMC, with the help of Co-Operative Housing Foundation, India sent a proposal for setting up a garbage management project and generating energy through biogas along with construction, maintenance and cleanliness of urinals in the slum areas of the city.”
He added that besides the PMC, 12 other institutions across the nation had approached the EU for funding, but the civic body’s proposal was chosen. The fund will be received on the basis of yearly instalments and the first instalment would be Rs 2.24 crore.
“Initially the project will be kicked off in 15 bastis of the city and then work will be started in as many as 75 slums in the city,” Jagtap said. He added that the prime objective of the project is to eradicate the concept of open toilets, so the micro action plan would be set up for cleanliness of these selected slums and accordingly garbage management, creating energy through biogas, repairing and maintenance of existing toilets would be conducted with the help of the fund.
Some believe however that the project is bound to hit some bumps. Health activist Chetan Gandhi, of PM Shah Foundation, who has been pursuing the public toilet scarcity issue since the past three years, said that the fund could be diverted for PMC’s other projects this time around as well.
“The budget allocated solely for construction of toilets in the city is still pending,” Gandhi said. When the activist questioned PMC officials about the funds lying unused, he was said that the answer they gave him was there was no space for constructing toilets. “If this is the situation, then I doubt how efficiently the fund would be used for construction of urinals in city slums,” Gandhi said.