Toilet construction new priority for oil PSUs

Vol 18, PW 17 (23 Apr 15) People & Policy

State-owned oil companies are often criticised for wasting time and money but now they are officially flushing it away in the toilet.

Or rather on toilets. Narendra Modi’s government has directed IndianOil, ONGC, GAIL, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to construct toilets across the country.

No doubt India has dire sanitation needs. According to UN estimates, 600m people or half the population have no access to toilets and are forced to defecate outdoors.

Schools often don't even have a single toilet, and often there are no separate toilet facilities for girls, forcing them to drop out. But is it the responsibility of oil companies? Today, the oil ministry is demanding weekly progress reports as IndianOil, ONGC, BPCL and HPCL race to set up 15,000 bio-toilets before the year-end for female students in rural areas.

“Each company has a quota,” confirms IOC. “There is a lot of pressure on us.

” IOC must build more than 5000 toilets in government-run schools, especially for girls; GAIL must construct around 2000 toilet blocks across India; BPCL and HPCL will together build another 2000. ONGC must build 4000 toilet blocks in government schools in 26 districts across 13 states for Rs200cr ($32m).

When the PM launched the 'Clean India' campaign, many companies urged employees to take a broom and start sweeping. “Building toilets shows instant results,” we hear.

“It’s about numbers and ticking a box.”

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