Railways plan more bio-toilets in trains

South East Central Railway (SECR) plans to introduce and maintain more bio-toilets in trains, keeping in view railway ministry’s efforts to provide such toilets in all trains by 2020.

“At present, there are bio-toilets in 14 coaches, including in 12 air-conditioned coaches and two sleeper coaches, being maintained at Bilaspur coaching depot. The division maintains 525 coaches of seven long distance and 11 short distance trains,” senior divisional mechanical engineer Lalit Dhurandar told TOI.

“Bio toilet is really a self-contained device that breaks down as well as dehydrates human waste with the help of an anaerobic bacterium inside a tank filled with 125 litres of water, which will convert it into harmless and odourless gas and water,” he said. “For long, waste was released directly on the tracks but now railways have found a solution to the messy problem with the help of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and bio-toilets is changing the scenario,” he added.

A high level safety committee headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar had noted in its report last year how the toilet droppings are one among the primary cause for the rail corrosion resulting in rail failure. The panel had also noted how railway men have refused to maintain tracks on account of dire unhygienic conditions.

Pointing out that the new age toilets were manufactured at Kapurthala coach factory and fitted in long distance trains, the ministry has already issued a circular to ensure green makeover in all the trains in order to improve hygienic conditions.


Railways to set up bacteria generation plants for bio toilets

Railways is setting up a bacteria generation plant at the Rail Coach Factory here to meet the requirement of bio toilets in trains.

“We are setting up a plant here for generating anaerobic bacteria to be used in bio toilets in coaches. The plant will come up in a 100 cubic metre site at the Rail Coach Factory premises,” said a senior RCF official involved with the project.

Railways has set a target of installing bio toilets designed by DRDO in 2500 coaches in the current fiscal. Besides Kapurthala, there will be two more anaerobic bacteria generation plants to be set up at Chennai and Nagpur.

While bio toilets are being fitted in all new LHB coaches manufactured in RCF, conventional coaches will also be equipped with these toilets in a phased manner, said the RCF official.

The anaerobic bacteria inside the toilets consumes waste material and converts it into water and gas in the bio-toilet system. The water passing through chlorine tank is discharged as clean water and the gas generated evaporates into the atmosphere.

The RCF plant will produce about 10,000 litres of bacteria in 10 days. One toilet requires 150 litre of bacteria for 10 days. “Currently we are procuring bacteria from DRDO but we have to generate on our own to meet the requirement for all coaches,” he said, adding “the plant will be operational in the near future.”

The bio toilet is estimated to cost about Rs 1 lakh per unit. “It is odourless and it will also prevent corossion of rail tracks due to the open discharge of waste on rails,” he said.

The problem of environmental degradation and corrosion of tracks due to night soil has caught the attention of railways for a long time. Rail corrosion costs railways more than Rs 350 crore every year. Railways have successfully completed field trials using bio toilets in a few trains.

“We will equip 1200 coaches with bio toilets in the current fiscal,” the official said. Railways have set up a core committee which is working out details to undertake retro-fitment in about 50,000 coaches of the national transporter.


Motibagh rly workshop to make green toilets

The suspense over who would manufacture environment-friendly toilets for train coaches in the city is over. The Railway Board has announced that the Rs 14.20 crore unit to make green toilets would be located at Motibagh workshop in city.

TOI on February 4 had reported that proposal to manufacture green toilets in Nagpur would be announced in the railway budget. Although railway minister Mamata Banerjee did not include the announcement in her speech, the decision still stands. The Board has made a token outlay of Rs 1 lakh for 2011-12 for the unit in Motibagh under the South East Central Railway (SECR). Deputy chief mechanical engineer (DyCME) Pradeep Kamle confirmed the development.

“We too are surprised. I learnt about it two days ago. No formal proposal was sent about the project and hence we also didn’t know about the modalities and details how the unit will be placed and its machinery. The Board will issue guidelines soon and a formal proposal will be sent,” Kamle said.

Earlier, there was ambiguity about the manufacturer. Two institutes – Vanrai and National Environment Engineering Research Institute (Neeri) – who have expertise in making green toilets had denied they were going to do the job. “The Indian Railways’ move to manufacture new design eco-friendly toilets in Nagpur is a step towards its commitment for cleaner environment and to prevent damage to rail tracks,” a senior railway official said.

“Efforts are on for installation of green toilets in trains and field trials are on for the purpose. Trials are going on for eco-friendly controlled discharge toilet system, zero discharge toilet system and bio-toilet based on bio-digester technology to be installed in all passenger trains. At present, Duronto Express has controlled discharge toilet system,” a senior official said.

Motibagh workshop began with maintaining steam engines 130 years ago, and has now started overhauling of broad gauge coaches.

What are eco-toilets?

Toilets in Indian trains are so terrifying that many passengers do not eat or drink anything during entire journey to avoid going there. Besides, human excreta released from trains spreads diseases and makes even standing at platforms unbearable. The eco-friendly toilet does not allow the refuse to fall on the tracks. Instead, it is collected in a tank fixed below the coach floor. The tank capacity is 900 litres, twice the capacity of the overhead water tank. The prototype of this toilet was developed in 2000. In appearance it is similar to the current train toilets.


Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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