23 April 2010
By Stuti Shukla
The BMC recently removed a Condom-vending machine installed in its head office because it was not being used, and because it was “embarrassing” for one of the senior IAS officials whose cabin is close to the spot where it had been installed. It was just outside the cabins of the four additional municipal commissioners on the third floor.
Of the 3,000 machines installed across the city over a year ago by private firms in collaboration with the government, nearly 800 are set for relocation because of very low or no usage.
BMC officials said low usage was the reason for removing their machine, too, but sources confirmed another reason was the ‘discomfort and embarrassment’ expressed by the senior civic official.
“We realised the placement of the machine was wrong as it was just outside the offices of the seniormost officials of the BMC. No one would actually have the courage to vend a Condom from it. We have removed the machine as of now and are planning to relocate it to a more discreet area, such as inside the men’s toilet,” said SS Kudlakar, deputy municipal commissioner in charge of AIDS awareness programmes.
The machines, where one valet of two condoms costs Rs 5, were installed in public places last February by the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT) along with the National AIDS Control Or ganisation and the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society, an autonomous body created by the BMC and headed by Kudalkar.
An HLFPPT official said some 800 machines have had very low usage. “Such machines are usually those installed in an open area. While the safety of these machines is guaranteed, the usage is low. Vice versa, those at discreet places have a good usage rate but are prone to vandalism,” said the official.
Around 400 machines have been stolen or vandalised.
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