One of the busiest and most important roads in the Mumbai Metropolitan Area, the Eastern Express Highway, is set to get sustainable solutions to its problem of open defecation on the roadside.
Thanks to the Thane Civil body, two self-sustaining prototypes of bio toilets will be unveiled this week on Eastern Express Highway, with one being exclusively for women.
Eco-friendly and cost effective, these bio-toilets are a complete waste management solution, which alleviates the need for expensive sewage treatment and waste management while fulfilling the need for public toilets along the highway.
Since these bio-toilets have been made by refitting cargo containers with urinals and water closets, they are extremely effective as public toilets for highway motorists in places facing a space crunch, and where there is inadequate provision for drainage. These toilets can convert human waste into a non-toxic, non-contaminating water compatible substance by application of bacterial culture and do not need a sewage system to operate.
Also, a unique feature of the modified containers is that they have been equipped with solar panels, making them energy-efficient and hence they only need water supply, not electricity or sewer pipes.
Two prototypes of the makeshift bio-toilets toilet have been set up at Teen Hath Naka to gauge the response. One prototype will serve as a community toilet for the general public, with access being free. The other, which will also have a restroom, will be exclusively for women who will have to shell out Rs 5 to use these toilets.
The women’s restroom will also have enough space for users to sit and relax while a bench in a small room will serve as a nursing station for those who have children or infants with them.The idea behind making this restroom was that if need arises, women should have a safe place to sit, wait and relax rather than waiting out on the highway.
Another container-toilet is also being set up at Mulund checkpoint on LBS Road, which will have five toilet seats, along with seven urinals to serve truck drivers. The spot on the road that has been selected for the toilet was earlier plagued by a constant stench as people would use it to defecate in the open.
The response of people to these bio-toilets and restrooms will be monitored and analysed by the authorities, and if it’s positive, 12 more such toilets will be set up along the highway. The focus will be on setting up bio-toilets in slum pockets, where people do not have access to basic sanitation.
After the Bombay High Court stated that there aren’t enough toilets in the city and ordered the municipal corporation to build more, Thane Municipal Corporation began this initiative in partnership with Agasti, a social enterprise, to address the issues concerning open defecation in the city.
The entrenched practice of open defecation in India continues to put communities and their children at risk. Widely adaptable, energy- efficient and environment friendly, these bio-toilets are an effort to improve hygiene among the masses and give them the option of a toilet instead of defecating in the open.