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Bengaluru: ‘She Toilet’ tender conditions not fair, allege Dalit groups

Groups like Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Karnataka Dali Industrialists Federation, and the Bahujan Samaj Party have taken up the cudgels against the tender
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 23:48 IST
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 23:48 IST
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 23:48 IST
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 23:48 IST

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Dalit groups are opposing the BBMP’s plan to build more than 100 ‘She Toilets’, saying it is intended to benefit advertisers.

Although the city has significant public toilet shortage, the criticism stems from concerns regarding the framing of the tender conditions.

The groups allege that the condition would exclude those belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled tribe (ST), typically responsible for maintaining the toilets, from participating in the tender.

Also Read | Odisha waives user fees for public toilets

Last month, the civic body launched a short-term tender for the construction of 'She Toilets' using a public-private partnership (PPP) model and reserved 25 out of 100 toilets for the SC/ST communities.

The chosen company will be granted commercial advertisement privileges for a 15-year period in return for constructing "smart" toilets that include a feeding area.

In addition to static advertisement space, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has also allowed the bidder to install a digital video wall, which is prohibited as it might distract motorists.

The tender document is not clear if using the toilets would involve a fee or if they are for free. Officials stress that they will be free, especially in crowded areas.

Opposition

Groups like Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Karnataka Dali Industrialists Federation, and the Bahujan Samaj Party have taken up the cudgels against the tender.

Besides the locations designated for the SC/ST community, pro-Dalit groups have also objected to the BBMP's financial eligibility criteria, which has set a benchmark of Rs 2 crore.

“Around 99% of the public toilets are washed and maintained by the Dalit community, but the BBMP wants corporate firms to reap the economic benefits. The civic body can develop 100 SC/ST families by tweaking the tenders.

"Going by the conditions, it looks like the tender is drafted to benefit advertisers,” A C Chikkanna, a Dalit leader, said.

Besides raising a complaint with the state government, Chikkanna has called for the tender’s immediate withdrawal.

A senior Palike official told DH that the civic body followed the finance department’s guidelines while setting the tender conditions for SC/ST reservation.

“The financial turnover is around Rs 5 crore in the general category. We have halved it for the SC/ST reserved tenders,” he said.

Dalit groups, however, questioned the rationale behind fixing a Rs 5-crore financial turnover in the tender for toilet construction.

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Published 07 March 2023, 21:34 IST

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