Inadequate or complete absence of restrooms on national highways have been long pending complaint for travellers on roads in our country. Even if a few are available at dhabas and other eateries, they seldom address issues of cleanliness or hygiene. Following in the footsteps of Indian railways , the state transport department has introduced bio toilets in some of its long distance buses, particularly those travelling beyond 125 kilometers. For the time being, the bio-toilets have been introduced in the Asansol and Digha routes of South Bengal State Transport Corporation and hopefully would be replicated by other state run transport corporations as well.
The concept of bio-toilet is based on ‘anaerobic composting’. In layman’s term, ‘anaerobic decomposition’ is a process by which the biodegradable waste is broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. The process undergoes several stages, eventually leading to the breakdown of the waste by bacterial hydrolysis. The body waste goes the bio digester tank which contains bacterial inoculums. The process of decomposition produces a bio gas which later escapes through an outlet. This mechanism is widely used as a renewable source of energy, as the end product which is bio gas, could be used directly as fuel in combined heat and power gas engines. Hence, this method is absolutely pollution free, eco friendly and contributes towards keeping the state clean and green. Countries like UK, Sweden, Germany etc. has already embraced this method of ridding biodegradable waste and has gained appreciation for being pollution free. As a part of Swacch Bharat Abhijan, these bio-toilets are gaining popularity and Indian Railways has set a target of building 17000 bio toilets in trains, this year.
The toilet is located at the back of the bus. It has two cubicles facing each other just like the ones we find in a train. There is also a mirror and wash basin attached in the space between the two cubicles. Mr Haradhan Sinha Roy, the chief operator of Esplanade SBST depot said: “The buses are cleaned every morning before taking off for the day. The washrooms have the western style toilet seat, making it convenient for people of all ages to use”.
In order to avail this eco friendly bus, one can log into the website of SBSTC and book via their portal which is www.sbstcbooking.co.in. You can also come down to the Esplanade Bus depot in person and buy tickets from their office at L-20 bus stand. One can also visit the Bardhaman SBSTC depot to for bookings. The bookings has to be done in advance that is one month prior to the date of journey. Currently, this particular bus service is available only for buses between Kolkata-Digha and Kolkata- Asansol. There are four buses fitted with bio toilets but the numbers are likely to increase. The Digha bound bus would cost you `330. The first bus for Digha leaves at 7:35 am from the Esplanade bus depot, the second one leaves at 8:15 am and the third bus leaves at 11:30 am. For a trip to Assansol, it would cost you `350 and the bus leaves at 3:40 pm from the depot. For cancellations, one can apply via the online portal or get it done directly from the depot office at Esplanade. The money is refunded after deducting 35% of the amount. The service had already begun from last year and has been running smooth since then. So, next time you travel long distance on state run buses, it may not turn out to be a nose-wrinkling, disgusting experience.