Mumbai: The mission to construct public toilets in an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Maharashtra continues as the state shifts focus from individual household toilets to public and community toilets. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the state will increase the number of public toilets in the coming few months to sustain the ODF tag. However, the upcoming toilets will have an eco-friendly twist. Merging the issue of waste management with open defecation, the state government will recycle plastic waste to make tiles that will be used to build toilets for public.
The decision to put plastic waste to use was taken a few days ago when Dr Rajagopalan Vasudevan, who is also known as ‘Plastic Man of India’ met state officials from the Environment department to discuss the possibility of his technology of converting plastic waste into durable and cost-effective construction material. Ideas including using waste plastic to lay roads, converting plastic into fuel for the cement industry and plastic tiles for toilets were discussed.
The officials gave a nod to the ‘Plastone’ technology that was invented by Dr Vasudevan, a recipient of the Padma Shri. A plastone is a stone block made with plastic coating. It was back in 2012 when Dr Vasudevan experimented with a block that would be durable and water resistant. Around 300 plastic bags and five PET bottles are used to make one plastone. Given that Maharashtra has a target to build around ten lakh public toilets, if Plastone technology is used then tonnes of plastic waste will be prevented from reaching the landfills.
In terms of costs, tiles made from plastone will be more expensive than the regular tiles. However, keeping the environmental advantages in mind, the state government will use professor Vasudevan’s technology. Besides, the plastic ban in Maharashtra will also give a fillip to the project. He will also provide training to the government officials on how to go about converting the collected plastic waste into plastone.
Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, two primary issues – open defecation and waste disposal are being addressed. Maharashtra needs more public toilets and a channel to recycle seized plastic items since June 23. Professor Vasudevan’s method will solve these two problems in one go. The tiles may cost more but will be environment friendly, Anil Diggikar, Principal Secretary, Environment said.
Maharashtra government had declared its urban areas free from open defecation last year on Gandhi Jayanti, whereas the rural areas were declared ODF this year in April by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Nearly five lakh toilets and 55 lakh toilets have been constructed in urban and rural areas respectively since 2014.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.