A beautiful luxury villa or resort may not make heads turn as they have sprung up in many parts of India and come to be associated with the uber rich. But a swanky-looking spanking new bamboo bus stop in Thane, put up by RC Thane Imperial, RID 3142, is certainly making heads turn in the city of dreams.
With a grass lawn (artificial), and neatly arranged bamboo sheets and poles, including beautiful bamboo benches for the commuters travelling by public buses, the first-of-its-kind bus shelter in Thane has definitely created a wow factor.
This unique and innovative project is the brainchild of the club’s IPP Reet Kumar, and her two in-house interior designers Jiiya Lad (also the club secretary) and project chairman Parikshit Lad. Giving details of this innovative project Reet says, “For this year, our team wanted to do an eco-friendly and sustainable project, which would also come under our district theme of FAB (fabulous) projects. Near our housing society there was this decrepit place which was dark, dreary and downright filthy… it had been encroached upon by hawkers, alcoholics and was being used as a urinal. The local residents were facing a serious hygiene and cleanliness as well as safety issue. Mosquitoes were proliferating in the place, and ownerless vehicles were being parked. Pedestrians and passersby had begun using that dark spot for smoking, consuming alcohol.”
The space was begging to be rescued and the club members decided to put up a bus shelter there. The choice was between a conventional steel and concrete bus shelter, which would have cost much less, or something unique that would make heads turn and also make a statement for environmental protection, Rotary’s seventh focus area, enhancing, in the process, the organisation’s public image.
Organic bamboo is cent per cent biodegradable, prevents soil erosion and minimise the demand on timber.
With the club president herself having studied interior design, and two club members being accomplished and skilled interior designers, it was decided to put up a bus shelter made of specially treated bamboo shipped in from Assam.
Now came the more difficult part; since the project involved putting up a bus shelter for the Thane Municipal Corporation, a plethora of clearances was required. “We all know how difficult it is to get the required authorisation and signature from one government organisation; in this case we had to deal with five different government bodies and get five signatures,” laughs Reet.
But their persistence paid off and the requisite athorisation was acquired. Next came the question of choosing the bamboo; local or ordinary bamboo would not do as one Mumbai monsoon would be sufficient to make a severe dent on such a structure. So it was decided to get special or premium quality bamboo… the type that is used for upmarket villas and resorts, and is approved by the Indian Green Council Building norms, from Assam.
She points out that two other purposes served by this project were that it was not only a contribution to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but also another government scheme — the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bamboo Scheme and National Bamboo Mission. “The objective of this scheme is to prevent or minimise the use of plastic in India and through the extensive use of bamboo, generate income and support the livelihood of farmers; all objectives aligned to those identified by Rotary.”
Reet adds that the normal cost of such a shelter, including the fees of specialised interior designers who work with bamboo, would be about ₹6 to 7 lakh, but the club managed to keep the cost low at around ₹3 lakh as the designers worked as volunteers. A conventional cement/steel bus shelter would cost around ₹2 lakh when made by the TMC as it gets the advantage of bulk rates.
On the longevity of this bamboo structure, she says that it will last from 10–12 years as the bamboo has been specially treated as done for villas or resorts. The club has also undertaken the responsibility to maintain it for the first three years. The roof has been protected against water leakage during the rains, as it has been covered by polycarbonate sheets. Trash cans, also made of bamboo and so beautiful that they can be easily pilfered, have also been kept here. To the question on the temptation they present to light fingered persons, Jiiya smiles and says: “Not possible as they have been embedded with cement!” Cameras have also been installed by the Rotarians to add to the spot’s security. TMC has been given the assurance that for three years the club will maintain this bus shelter.
The structure will last for 10–12 years as the bamboo has been specially treated as done for villas and resorts.
At the inaugural ceremony IPDG Kailash Jethani and TMC commissioner Abhijit Bangar complimented the club members for their service to the local community. Bangar said proposals for such innovative projects in partnership with Rotary will be considered and welcomed.
On the response of local community and other clubs to this unconventional bus stop, Reet says, “Certainly, there is a sense of wonder, because this shelter is indeed unique. A couple of other clubs are interested and have approached us, and the TMC commissioner himself has expressed interest too. We will happily help as we know the process and have the skilled designers in our club.”
Why bamboo is special
Reeling off the special qualities of bamboo, RC Thane Imperial past president Reet Kumar says that first of all it is an eco-friendly and sustainable solution; bamboo can be cut like grass rather than uprooted and it helps to rejuvenate poor quality soil. It grows quickly and densely so that less space is required, needs less water to grow, doesn’t require pesticides or fertilisers. “Organic bamboo is cent per cent biodegradable, prevents soil erosion and if ethically grown can help local economies and minimise the demand on timber.”
Other advantages of bamboo are that it is soft, anti-bacterial, water resistant and has eco-friendly properties; it has no sharp or rough elements and provides excellent ventilation because of microscopic holes in the fibre.
“Our research has shown that the thermoregulatory properties of bamboo help keep you cool when the weather gets hot. The breathable and moisture- wicking nature of the material allows for ultimate comfort on hot days. Bamboo also offers UV protection from the sun’s harmful rays, filtering up to 97.5 of UV radiation. Natural bamboo is hypoallergenic; it is perfect for sensitive skin as it does not cause allergic reactions,” says club secretary Jiiya Lad.