BMC will pay Rs 12 lakh every year to maintain Mumbai's most expensive toilet at Marine Drive
While usually contractors bid to operate public toilets, Mumbai civic body will pay them Rs 1 lakh a month to maintain art deco toilet on Marine Drive
Built at the cost of nearly a crore, the city's most expensive public toilet at Marine Drive will continue to cost the BMC a crap tonne of money. The civic body will flush Rs 1 lakh down its drains every month solely in maintenance charges. Officials plan to use advertising to offset the costs, but even this will require a further expense of nearly Rs 1 lakh to install smart mirrors that will also function as screens.
The art deco toilet was constructed at the cost of Rs 90 lakh by the Jindal Group and Samatech as part of their CSR initiative. It was then handed over to the BMC for maintenance and inaugurated last month. While its construction cost three times more than a regular toilet block, the loo will continue to earn its title as Mumbai's most expensive public toilet, thanks to exorbitant maintenance costs.
A regular toilet block with 10 toilet seats functioning on a pay-and-use model can easily be maintained for just Rs 20,000 a month. On the other hand, the Corporation will have to shell out Rs 1 lakh per month — five times as much — to keep the swanky Marine Drive restroom shipshape.
Current mirrors will be replaced by smart mirrors that double up as advertising screens
Why so expensive?
The Marine Drive toilet was crafted from weathering steel, which is corrosion-proof and eliminates the need for painting. There are three stalls for women, and three urinals and two stalls for men. The eco-friendly loo also features vacuum technology and solar panels, along with expensive fixtures. Officials cited this specialised equipment to justify the steep maintenance costs.
While other public toilets in the city are maintained by contractors who charge users a fee and utilise those funds for maintenance, in this case, the BMC will pay a contractor to operate and maintain this toilet. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A ward, said the contractor will be responsible for both cleanliness and security.
"Unlike other toilets, which are usually cleaned once a day, at the Marine Drive toilet, the contractor will be responsible for housekeeping and comprehensive operation and maintenance of the toilet on around the clock," he said, adding the toilets are to be cleaned every hour as per a checklist, like the system followed at shopping malls and airports.
Civic officials hope to recover money through advertising spaces inside the loo. The mirrors currently installed inside the men's and women's toilets will soon be replaced by smart mirrors — glass panels that perform the dual function of a screen as well as mirror. Each of the panels cost around Rs 10,000, and the installation cost will amount to around Rs 1 lakh. "The glass screens will show advertisements and, when the tap is turned on, they will turn into mirrors. Apart from four of these mirrors, we will also install two LCD screens that will also show advertisements," said Dighavkar.
Civic officials said that on an average, 32 women use the toilet per hour on weekdays and 45 on weekends. As for men, 43 use the toilet per hour on weekdays and 68 on weekends. He added that an auction will be conducted soon, a media agency will be given charge of the screens for three years.
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