Uzhavan Express that was flagged off from here on September 1, qualifies to be called a ‘green express’ as bio-toilets have been fitted into 34 of its 36 coaches. “Except first AC and AC two-tier coaches, all the other 34 coaches have been fitted with bio-toilets,” said Southern Railway officials.
Indian Railways, at present, is running 1,400 coaches with 3,800 bio-toilets in various trains, according to a Southern Railway press release issued here on Thursday.
In the first four months of the current year, more bio-toilets have been fitted into coaches than the entire number fitted in the last three years. The number of bio-toilets fitted into passenger coaches from April to July this year was 2,285, against 1,337 bio-toilets fitted during 2012-13, 169 during 2011-12, and 57 during 2010-11.
The first bio-toilet-fitted train, Gwalior-Varanasi Bundelkhand Express, has been running since January 2011.
After receiving encouraging feedback from the users and railway maintenance staff, the pace of fitment of these bio-toilets into passenger coaches has been ramped up.
In its endeavour to take all necessary steps to keep station premises clean, Indian Railways is now manufacturing all-new conventional passenger coaches fitted with bio-toilets.
A colony of anaerobic bacteria convert human waste mainly into water and small amount of gases (methane and CO2) in the bio-toilets has been fitted underneath the lavatories in coaches. The gases emit into the atmosphere and waste is discharged after chlorination onto the track. Human waste thus does not fall on the railway track. This procedure is environment-friendly and improves the working condition for the railway track staff.
The toilets, according to the press release, will not function if they are chocked with plastic bottles, paper cups, cloth rags, sanitary napkin, nappies, plastic poly bags and pouches. The environment-friendly, low cost and robust technology has been developed jointly by the Indian Railways and Defence Research and Development Organisation. The bacteria used in the bio-toilet has been collected and analysed by DRDO from Antarctica and the efficiency of this system has been tested in extreme climates and conditions like those at Siachen Glacier. The anaerobic bacteria can survive in extreme climates and when exposed to common disinfectants.