Murshidabad district of West Bengal has constructed as many as 205 community sanitary complexes at bus stands, market places, police stations, religious institutions, primary health centres, flood shelters and ferry ghats to ensure that people have access to sanitation facilities and will not resort to open defecation.
As a part of their open defecation free (ODF) sustainability campaign under the Mission Nirmal Bangla programme, the district administration has issued standard operating procedures and signed MoUs with the local Sangha Samabay Samity or Self Help Groups (SHG) that will take care of day to day operations and maintenance of the facilities located across 25 Blocks in the district.
The pay and use community toilets will cater to shopkeepers, customers, passers-by and others so that all public areas remain clean and ODF. They will remain open for users from 9 am until 8 PM each day.
Commenting on the initiative, District Coordinator, Mr. Abhijit Lahiri said that cleanliness of the community toilet was the top most priority. Hence they have informed the Sangha Samabay Samity that the facility should be cleaned as and when required and at least twice each day.
Further, the SHG should provide all cleaning materials, including disinfectant for cleaning the community toilet and ensure proper hygiene. The facility should be equipped with accessories such as buckets, mugs, liquid soaps/detergent, dustbins, etc., all in good condition. While availability of water should be ensured at all times, an electric pump machine should be operated to lift water, making certain that both electricity and water are not wasted.
As far as user charges are concerned, it is Rs.1 for use of urinal; Rs.2 for use of latrine and Rs.5 for use of bathing facility. While shopkeepers are exempted from paying user charges on producing exemption card issued by the Zilla Parishad Authority, the adjacent counter of the community toilet can be used by the Sangha Samabay Samity as a shop for selling toiletries, stationery items, tea and snack items.
The revenue collected from the toilet and adjacent shop is for the use of the SHG, including for minor repair and replacement work; while major repairs will be handled by the Block Authority. However, for the sales counter, yearly/monthly usage charge (Rs.600 per year or Rs. 50 per month) has to be paid to the Panchayat Samity. Electricity charges will be paid by the Sangha Samabay Samity for which they can receive a reimbursement of Rs. 400 per month.