Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 8:
Well ahead of the launch of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, politicians, bureaucrats and top cops in Odisha were already on a mission to construct multiple toilets and bathrooms in the official quarters allotted to them.
The Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) is spending a whopping Rs 1 crore annually on construction and renovation of toilets and bathrooms in government quarters occupied by ministers, legislators and IAS and IPS officers.
Almost all ministers in the state cabinet have been allotted Type- VIII quarters while senior IAS and IPS officers have been given Type VI to Type-VIII quarters. As per rules, there should be a maximum of four toilets in Type-VI quarters and five in Type-VIII. However, the ministers and administrative officers are constructing separate toilets and bathrooms beyond the prescribed limit.
Besides, they are constructing their office with attached bathrooms and toilet. Similar facilities are also being provided for caretakers and security personnel, who are being allotted outhouses in the premises. With this, the number of bathroom and toilet increases up to 10 in the quarters of ministers and IAS officers.
The sanitary fittings and interiors of the lavatories change with the change in the occupant. The new dweller makes changes as per his/her choice—from fittings to flooring. While the department has a maximum spending limit of Rs 90, 000 towards this, they incur expenses in the region of Rs 6-7 lakh per quarters.
The officials cannot raise their voice against this as the quarters are being allotted to high-profile persons.
“We make delayed payments to the contractors or show the expenses under some other head to facilitate the billing,” an official of the department said on condition of anonymity.
The violation of rules is not limited to bathroom and toilets; they even flout the norms on water usage. As per rules, they are entitled to install three 1500 litre overhead tanks at two points. However, they are installing around 4-5 water tanks in their quarters consuming 6-7, 000 litres of water every day.
While an average denizen gets piped water supplied by the department twice daily, the uncontrolled water usage by the high and mighty raises many questions.