Delhi trains to have green toilets by coming March

There is some good news for activists who have been asking the Indian Railways to sort out the problem of manual scavenging due to the existence of conventional toilets in trains.

If Northern Railway officials are to be believed, all trains maintained by the Delhi Division will have bio-toilets, or green toilets as they are popularly called, by the end of this financial year.

The successful experiment of bio-toilets on the Hazrat Nizamuddin-Indore Intercity Express for the past five months has resulted in the Railway officials deciding to expand the model of green toilets across Delhi Division. Approximately 3,000 green toilets will be installed in 750 coaches in the first phase. Till now the Railways have introduced the innovative toilets in only eight trains.

Sources say that after successful installation in 750 coaches, other divisions of the Railways will implement the green drive in the next phase. All the premium trains like Shatabdi, Duranto and Rajdhani have been included in this phase. The cost of one green toilet is about Rs.1 lakh, almost five times the conventional one.

“Open discharge toilets on trains have been under constant criticism because of creating the problem of manual scavenging which led to a series of trials with green toilets on train. Indian Railways in collaboration with the Defence Research & Development Establishment’ (DRDE) have innovated a revolutionary design of bio-toilets which will soon be seen on all the coaches maintained by Delhi division,” said a railway official.

Referring to the positive impact of green toilets, the official said: “This design of toilets will not only replace the stinking toilets but will also do away with manual scavenging and add to the life span of the railway tracks. Open discharge of the conventional toilets corrodes the tracks which sometimes leads to accidents,” he added.

The new toilets will have a collection tank fitted with anaerobic bacteria to decompose faecal matter completely and only a colourless, odourless benign liquid that does not pollute the environment will be released. The tank has seven chambers. By the time the excreta traverses through these chambers and reaches the exit, it is fully decomposed.

The problem of choking of toilets has also been taken care of in this design. The tank inlet is provided with a valve which can be manually operated to clear the choke.

All Rail coaches to have bio-toilets by 2017

The Ministry of Rural Development has offered to fit all new railways coaches with DRDO built bio-toilets and to share half the cost of retrofitting all existing 50,000 coaches with green toilets. Minister of Rural Development Shri Jairam Ramesh met the Railway Board Chairman Shri Vinay Mittal here and expressed the hope to complete the project in the next four to five years. Shri Ramesh informed that the whole project will cost about 500 crore rupees and offered to share the burden on a 50-50 basis with the Railways. He said, at present only 9 trains with 436 coaches are fitted with bio-toilets, while 4,000 coaches are produced annually which could be fitted with new bio-toilets. The measure will not only prevent the corrosion of tracks but will also provide odourless toilets to passengers. At present waste is dumped directly on to the tracks because of the existing toilet system in trains. Many passengers ignore requests to not use toilets when trains halt. Apart from the unbearable stench it creates, the practice leads to clogging of rail lines at busy stations.

Shri Ramesh has also requested the Railways Ministry to run Nirmal Bharat Express on the model of Red Ribbon Express to spread the message of cleanliness and sanitation. Shri Mittal has given a positive nod to the proposal and asked the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to submit a detailed plan in this regard.