Private sector-led sanitation
Apropos of the your editorial ‘Toilet truth’ (FE, November 21), the government is only a part of the solution. The major part of the responsibility lies with individuals. ‘Nirmala’ in Bangalore and ‘Namma toilet’ in Srirangam (Tamil Nadu) have built eco-friendly toilets in many places in their locations. Other major cities are a big zero. To the extent toilets are built and operated, the public hardly uses it. Many (literate, too) still feel it is OK to unzip in public and urinate! A bigger concern is that there is no progress made in the place where this initiative is urgently required: in slums. People cite cultural issues. Some reason that people would take away the material and sell it for whatever it is worth. Would we require a security guard outside every toilet? Even so, a pay-and-use model, funded/subsidised by exchequer is fine—but, before this, the sense of urgency needs to catch up, first and foremost, in the urban cosmopolitan landscape. How many people still visit the loo in bus-stations? None. There are in-transit stops for mofussil buses plying between metros. The hotels in those places also operate toilets. They are safe, and relatively clean. Where the private sector is absent, people simply dread going into this dark shack called ‘toilet’. We need to use recycled water for loos. Criminalising public urinating/ defecation must also be not ruled out.
Raghu Seshadri, Chennai
The gas on LPG reforms
Apropos of the edit, “Modi’s LPG ‘reform’” (FE, December 30) shows that entire approach to gas subsidy is pedestrian and should have been brought to the income-cap of Rs 6 lakh per annum, as rightly advocated your paper, to include what is creamy layer’ on the basis of income. According to data from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, a total of 20.26 lakh people were reportedly above the Rs 10 lakh bracket in the assessment year 2014-15. The market price of a 14.2-kg LPG cylinder is Rs 608 and the subsidised price is Rs 419, which implies that one will lose R189 per cylinder. This amounts to Rs 2,268 in a year and it is perfectly affordable by those who earn more than Rs. 10 lakh a year. The fact that the number of new LPG consumers are going up by 10% show that the subsidy burden will keeping rising. Based on the experience during UPA regime on diesel prices, modest increase in prices of LPG will check this. The direct transfer of LPG subsidy has plugged leakages but the claims have been highly exaggerated. A study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) states that the government’s claims of savings due to a shift towards direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG (also called PAHAL) are “large overestimates”. IISD has shown that as against the publicly touted figure of Rs 12,700 crore of savings for FY15, the actual savings cannot exceed Rs 143 crore, or just 1.12% of the claimed number. The section of society that can easily afford the prices must be weeded out.
MM Gurbaxani, Bangalore