Viewing Behavior Change Through Another Lens

As is well known and well covered in the media, there is a sanitation crisis in India, with over half the population (roughly 600 million people) forced to open-defecate every day due to a lack of adequate facilities, infrastructure, and even a basic understanding of the importance of healthy sanitation habits. This makes India the world’s biggest culprit in terms of open-defecation, with more than double the amount of the next 11 countries combined.

Additionally, the country loses over US$50 billion dollars per year (roughly 6% of GDP) due to sanitation-related illnesses, one child under the age of 5 dies every 20-seconds from diarrhea stemming from water-borne illnesses, safety of women and girls remains one of the primary concerns in settings where they are forced into the (more…)

Financial Considerations

Project Sammaan remains a tale of two cities, with construction related activities continuing at a feverish pace for the Community Toilet facilities in Cuttack whereas matters for the same facility type in Bhubaneswar remaining stalled as we continue waiting for the Administrative Approval to be granted by the H&UD Department. Only once this approval is granted can the contracts with NBCC be signed, and the pre-construction activities commence.

Over the past few days, there has been some cause for optimism in regards to Bhubaneswar’s Community Toilets: the file has moved from the Finance (more…)

Construction Timelines & Cause for Concern

News that National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) has been identified as the contractor for all of the Project Sammaan facilities in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack brought with it both an incredible sense of relief and a torrent of new work to accomplish all of the project’s required pre-construction activities prior to breaking ground on the first facilities.

I have written briefly in the past about these pre-construction efforts, but now that we have a contractor on-board we have shifted into the day-to-day planning that will be required to effectively, efficiently, and successfully pull off the construction of the 79 separate facilities in the initial phase of Project Sammaan. With all of the different organizations involved, and each with their own sets of needs and related challenges, the logistics of coordinating all individual efforts such that the collective goal of getting the facilities online as quickly as possible is (more…)

NBCC Awarded Contracts for Sammaan Facilities

The National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) has been awarded the contract to construct all 26 Community Toilets and 21 of the 27 Public Toilets in Bhubaneswar as part of Project Sammaan. (The contract for the six remaining Public Toilets is still pending despite a qualified bidder, the Vinayak Agency, being identified through an open tender nearly six months ago). The motion to award NBCC the contracts for Cuttack’s 31 Community Toilets is expected to be passed this week, and the formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed soon thereafter.

NBCC is a massive Public Sector Unit headquartered in Delhi that takes on projects across India, as well as in overseas locations such as Iraq, Libya, Nepal, Yemen, and Turkey. The company’s services is broadly in three segments: Project Management Consultancy, Real Estate (more…)

The Waiting Game Continues

For over four months now, the project team has found itself in a state of limbo awaiting a decision by the Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UD) in Bhubaneswar on whether or not the contracts for constructing the Sammaan facilities can be awarded to a Public Sector Unit (PSU) on a nomination basis. And that waiting game continues unabated.

There have been several posts written on this blog during this time attempting to convey any information possible, though much of this was speculatory and emotive: we simply haven’t had anything concrete to report leaving us in a position to simply share our feelings as project activities (more…)

Institutional Knowledge

Any long-term engagement requires a certain level of institutional knowledge in order to be sustainable and ever forward-moving. This becomes especially poignant the longer and more complex the initiative. Given Project Sammaan’s scope and long-term focus, this level of understanding is simply not an option, but rather an absolute must if we are to be successful.

There are many ways in which the project is structured to ensure that the decisions made that define the project are documented as they happen, and this information is disseminated to project partners or in the very least made readily available. Communications efforts span from (more…)

A Need for Clarity & Access

The possibility of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) being awarded the contracts for constructing the Sammaan facilities on a nomination basis was greeted with great excitement, support, and an overwhelming sense of relief; after a year-and-a-half of false starts and setbacks, it was beginning to look like the tendering process was finally over. That positive outlook has been tempered quite a bit over the past two months as the decision on a PSU’s nomination remains pending, leaving the team in an extended state of limbo and uncertain as to what steps can be taken to expedite the review.

Much of this uncertainty lies in the lack of clarity regarding what is entailed in the review process currently under way with various representatives at the H&UD, Finance, and Public Health Departments. We simply don’t know what the protocols are, who is responsible for each step, and what the timelines associated with each are. Ultimately, the team finds itself in a position of having to be reactive, to wait for requests from the various (more…)

The Gradual Manifestation of a Distant Vision

My colleague Kevin has posted recent updates on the current status of nominating a construction agency for building the toilet facilities in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. As mentioned, we are waiting on final approvals from the government and are hopeful that we will soon have a contractor confirmed, following which we can start pre-construction activities at the sites. As such, we are hopeful that we will soon break ground and see the beginning of construction.

This has come after several months of tendering activity. The design team that has worked on the various sorts of toilet facilities, have long completed all the requisite work to begin construction. (more…)

The Waiting Game

Project Sammaan is currently in a state of limbo with decisions still pending on nominating a contractor to construct the facilities in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. After several failed attempts at publicly tendering the facility construction, reports were issued by both the BMC and CMC to senior officials at the Housing & Urban Development Department supporting the nomination of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) as contractor.

The decision to nominate a PSU received the full support of the project team and, since late July, the reports have been subject to review by various members of the H&UD, Public Health, and (more…)

Pre-Construction Activities

There are a series of interrelated activities that must occur prior to the commencement of construction on the Sammaan facilities in order to ensure the project is as effective as possible. The challenge is that these activities cannot begin until after the contractors have been selected and a clearly defined construction timeline created as they need to be completed as close to the commencement of building the facilities as can be afforded.

Naturally, the extensive delays in the tendering process and, ultimately, in finding suitable contractors for facility construction has put the timelines for the pre-construction activities in a (more…)