Sulabh backs out of CR’s luxury toilet plan

NGO was unwilling to bear Rs20-25 lakh per toilet construction cost.

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Central Railway (CR) general manager Subodh Jain’s ambitious project, first announced in late 2011, of providing corporate-funded ‘luxury’ toilets on major railway platforms, has put off one of the world’s largest public toilet service provider, Sulabh International, in the pilot stage itself.

CR officials said that the well-known brand, which was supposed to build two “luxury” toilets at Thane on platforms 2 and 10, has backed out of the project since it was dissatisfied with the terms of the proposal.

A senior CR official said the deal had nearly been finalised but the NGO backed out citing its “inability to (fund the) construction of toilets. They were only willing to maintain and operate it.

Constructing a single toilet with all the requirements, such as air-conditioning, dressing rooms, waiting rooms for women, hand dryers etc., was estimated to cost Rs20-25 lakh per toilet.

“Sulabh was expected to seek corporate funding for the toilets and we were to provide the space. The corporates could recover their investments through advertising while Sulabh was to carry out the daily maintenance,” said another CR officer from the Mumbai division.

But attempts to attract private funding are still on. The senior CR official quoted earlier said, “We are willing to let the private firms charge as they wish for facilities apart from the basic urinal which is capped at Rs1. No one else has shown interest after Sulabh backed out.”

Chief spokesperson of CR confirmed the cancellation. He said they will stick to the original scheme and seek sponsors.

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