Delhi acid ban: MC washrooms barred from using acid for cleaning purpose
New Delhi, May 22: Days after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to the MCD commissioner over the usage of acid for cleaning purposes at a civic body-run toilet, the corporation issued an order prohibiting the use of the same.
Earlier on April 4, Delhi Commission Women chairperson Swati Maliwal inspected an MCD female toilet Opposite GB Pant Hospital Gate No. 8, Daryaganj, and found a 50-litre canister containing acid kept in the open inside the toilet.
Upon enquiring, the Commission was informed by the safai karamchari as well as a staff of the agency — Shri Ram Institute of Rural Development (who has been given the contract by MCD for maintaining and operating the toilet complex), that they purchase acid every month to clean the toilets.
"The DCW was shocked to find acid, in such a huge quantity lying in the open in the MCD toilet. This is illegal and extremely dangerous as anyone could have accessed this acid and used it for causing an acid attack," said Swati Maliwal.
The commission ensured that the acid was immediately confiscated by the Delhi Police and issued summons to MCD officials to explain the presence of acid in toilets.
Senior officers from the City Zone appeared before the Commission and provided a written reply which stated that no guidelines have been issued by MCD to prevent the usage of acid for cleaning public toilets.
"They also informed that toilets are cleaned (by the agency) as per terms and conditions imposed upon them in the contract agreement by MCD. Further, they provided a copy of the contract agreement between MCD and the agency (Shri Ram Institute of Rural Development) for maintaining and operating the toilet," stated an official release.
On perusal of the contract agreement, the commission observed that the same was signed on July 17, 2017, and the upkeep of 40 toilet complexes was handed over to the agency.
The reply of MCD submitted to the Commission also points to Rule 36 of the Terms and Conditions of the contract agreement (between the MCD and agency) which clearly states that in case Acid is not used by the agency to clean the toilets weekly, a penalty of Rs 1,000 per day shall be imposed on the agency by MCD.
The commission raised the matter with MCD and issued notice to MCD Commissioner seeking an explanation and an action taken report on the matter.
"Senior officials from MCD appeared before the Commission in the matter on 16.05.2023 and informed that presently 308 community toilets/public toilets have been outsourced to private agencies which are having the same contract with MCD which states that a penalty of Rs 1000 per day shall be imposed on the agency in case acid is not used to clean the toilets weekly! Upon enquiry, it was learnt that the contract document was approved by North MCD House in 2017 which clearly promoted the use of acid for cleaning toilets," read an official release.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal expressed her displeasure over the present state of affairs where MCD has illegally directed the usage of acid to clean 308 public toilets! MCD officials then, upon the direction of the Commission issued an office order on 18.05.2023 which states that the said provision of the contract (which encourages the use of acid) has been repealed and if any person is found using/storing acid in the toilets, then action shall be taken against the agency as per law.
DCW Chief Swati Maliwal stated, "We found acid in MCD toilet in huge quantity. Initially, we thought that it was an illegal act by the private agency operating the toilets on behalf of the MCD. However, our enquiry into the matter opened a Pandora's box. Our investigation revealed that in 2017, the elected representatives of North MCD passed a resolution approving the contract with private agencies for operating 308 public toilets, which mandated them to use acid to clean toilets weekly or else pay a hefty fine! How can MCD which is a Government body itself promote the usage of acid? This is shocking and illegal. After DCW intervention, MCD has finally taken corrective steps and the use of acid has been prohibited in its public toilets."