public toilet public toilet

A civic amenity that did not see the light of day

Following a row triggered by the site of a public toilet which was being built near the statue of Santosh Kumar Roy, former legislator and father of former minister Gautam Roy, the Hailakandi district administration stepped in to demolish its construction drawing the ire of Hailakandi MLA, Anowar Hussain Laskar.

Deputy Commissioner, Hailakandi, Adil Khan ordered the demolition of the half-constructed toilet on Sunday. The demolition was carried out as the toilet under construction was illegal, as the executing agency, the Public Health Engineering did not obtain prior permission either from the Hailakandi Municipal Board or from the authorities of SK Roy Civil Hospital.

Controversy over the site of the pay-and-use toilet that was being built in the vicinity of the civil hospital, led to a scuffle between legislator Laskar of AIUDF and the supporters of BJP on May 16, with some claiming that slogans in favour of Pakistan were raised during the commotion. Following the row, the administration imposed Section 144 CrPC in Hailakandi.

Nasiruddin Laskar (32), a resident of Monacherra village of Hailakandi, was arrested on allegations of raising 'anti-national' slogans. BJP filed an FIR at the Hailakandi Sadar Police Station against Laskar for allegedly inciting 'anti-national' sentiments.

The Congress, as well as the BJP, was opposed to the toilet’s construction at the site as it was very close to a statue of former MLA Santosh Kumar Roy after whom the hospital is named. However, the MLA did not budge an inch from his stand, saying that the toilet meant for public’s convenience was being built far away from the statue and as such, there could not be any reason for the controversy. He said he stood for development and hence would not accept the stalling of the work.

Things came to a boiling point when Laskar lend his hand in the construction much to the discomfiture of the Congress and the BJP.

Roy’s grandson Rahul Roy, who also is a former MLA and son of former Congress minister Gautam Roy, alleged the MLA had insulted his grandfather by deciding to build the toilet near the statue.

Following the razing of the toilet to the ground, Laskar held a press conference in Guwahati on Monday and said he would dash off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about demolition of construction of the toilet in his constituency by the district administration, and that, too, at a time when the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is going full steam across the country. "I had sanctioned the construction of a public toilet on SK Roy Civil Hospital premises from untied funds on public demand. After the construction started, the district administration stopped the work because of protests by the Congress and the BJP. The Deputy Commissioner stopped the work with my consent so that a solution could be arrived at. But on Sunday, keeping me in the dark completely and taking advantage of my absence, the unfinished construction was demolished and iron rods removed from the site," Laskar alleged.

A senior official of the district administration on the condition of anonymity said that MLA Laskar has the habit of poking his finger into every pie and acts as a stumbling block to the process of development. “It is not new as the local MLA has taken similar measures in the past to gain political mileage,” said the official, adding, “Why will the administration not work with him in tandem if he is willing to cooperate!”. Deputy Commissioner Khan was non-committal on the issue that is dragging him into the controversy.