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.

Bio-toilets in all trains in phases

Railway track and stations will be cleaner in the days to come, with the railways deciding to install bio-toilets in all coaches in a phased manner. It, however, cautioned that the success of the project would depend upon the cooperation and discipline of passengers.

The decision comes close on the heels of an offer made by the Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to share 50 per cent of the cost from the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The offer pertains to retrofitting bio-toilets that the railways have developed jointly with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 50,000 passenger coaches.

For this, about two lakh units will be required. Bio-toilets will be built in new coaches and the railways will bear the cost themselves. Retrofitting of bio-toilets will also involve the DRDO and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The railways will bear 50 per cent of the cost.

In bio-toilets, the waste is converted into water and gases — methane and carbon dioxide. The waste will be treated by bacteria, which are benign to humans. While the gases get released into the atmosphere, the water will be discharged after chlorination. By completely eliminating the fall of human waste on the track, bio-toilets will help in checking depreciation of coaches and track by preventing corrosion.

During field trials, it was found that passengers used the bio-toilet as a garbage bin. The toilets were blocked by various objects rendering the system non-operational. Plastic bottles, tea cups, cloth, sanitary napkins, poly bags and gutka pouches, among other articles, were found in the toilet pans.

Trains to be fitted with bio-toilets

With Railways a “big headache” to efforts to make the country open defecation free, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today offered that his Ministry would bear half the cost of retrofitting eco-friendly bio-toilets in all 50000 coaches in five years.

The total cost for retrofitting bio-toilets in all coaches would be about Rs 500 crores.

Ramesh, who also holds the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that at present only nine trains with 436 coaches are fitted with bio-toilets, while 4,000 coaches are produced annually which could be fitted with new bio-toilets developed by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

“…What I have offered to Railway Board Chairman is that we will bear 50 per cent cost of retrofitting each on the 50000 coaches with the DRDO biodigesters in 4 to 5 years time,” he told reporters here after meeting Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and senior board officials at his Ministry today.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation would bear its 50 per cent cost for retrofitting to provide Indian Railways, which ferries 11 million passengers daily, with hygenic sanitation.

During his meeting, Ramesh also asked the Railway Board officials to run a Nirmal Bharat Express, fitted with bio-toilets, which will go in various railwaylines to spread the message of sanitation and hygiene.

In these bio-toilets, the human waste is treated by bacteria which is benign to the humans. This bacteria converts human waste into water and gases (methane and CO2).

The gases escape into atmosphere and treated waste water is discharged after chlorination. Human waste, thus, does not fall on the tracks.

Railways have claimed that this system not only improves the environment and hygiene but also helps in preventing corrosion to coach and track components.

Speaking in the capital last month, Ramesh had said Railways was “another big headache for us” on the issue of ending manual scavenging and open defecation.

The Rural Development Ministry has launched a campaign to end open defecation in 10 years.

Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Open to the tracks toilets make way for bio-toilets

The Indian Railways is replacing the existing open to the tracks toilets with brand new bio-toilets. The aim is simple: prevent corrosion of tracks and provide stench-free toilets to passengers.

“Some green toilets are already being manufactured and fitted in coaches, and we plan to manufacture 2500 bio-toilets in the current year,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The problem of environmental degradation and corrosion of tracks due to night soil (night soil is a euphemism for human excrement collected at night from cesspool, privies, etc) has been a long standing one. Rail corrosion costs the railways more than Rs. 350 crore every year.

“Our aim is to replace the existing toilets with bio-toilets in all long distance trains,” the official said.

The official said that the complete switch over to bio-toilets in new coaches will be carried out by 2016-17 while the total elimination of direct discharge toilet system in all passenger coaches will be done by 2021-22, the end of 13th Five-Year Plan.

The Kakodkar Committee on railway safety and Pitroda Committee on railway modernisation had strongly recommended in their reports for replacing the conventional open-discharge toilets with green toilets with a view to having cleaner, hygienic and safer railway ecosystem.

Five years and 43,000 carriages

Both the panels’recommended that toilets with nil or harmless discharge be installed within the next five years in all 43,000 carriages used by the Railways.

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.

Bio-toilets are already operational in some coaches as part of a pilot project. “Some modifications are being made during the trial and now the new technology will be extended to as many trains,” said the official.

Besides DRDO designed bio-toilets, trials for vacuum toilets are also being planned in a few premier trains.PTI

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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