Bio-toilets to prevent corrosion of rail tracks

Defacement and corrosion of railway tracks by night soil—costing the exchequer crores—might soon be a thing of the past. All new coaches inducted into the trains run by Northern Railway will now come fitted with bio-toilets. After the successful run of bio-toilets installed in Nizamuddin-Indore Inter-City train, the railways has decided to install such toilets in all trains maintained by the Delhi division.

Top sources said the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur and the Railway Coach Factory at Kapurthala have decided to use bio-toilets in sleeper and AC coaches. Six hundred toilets have already been fitted in 150 coaches.

Passengers on express trains Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi which have LHB coaches, will have to wait longer as bio-toilets for these coaches are still in the planning stage. These trains use the Control Discharge Toilet System (CDTS), in which the night soil gets discharged only after the train attains a particular speed to prevent at least the station areas from being affected.

The Delhi division aims to install 3,000 bio-toilets in 750 coaches in this financial year. “Bio-toilets will be installed in coaches under other divisions of Northern Railway in the next phase,” said a railway official. These new-age toilets have been designed along with the Defence Research and Development Establishment. A special bacterium is released in the night soil. The bacteria then consume this soil and releases non-corrosive neutral water. The bacteria can thrive without external help. The green toilets not only prevent discharge of excrement on tracks and maintain cleanliness but will also help do away with manual scavenging.

To prevent choking, the toilet has got a tank inlet with a valve, which can be manually operated to clear any blockage.

All rail coaches to get bio-toilets in 10 yrs

Ten years down the line to provide better cleanliness and hygiene in and around railway stations, on board trains and track area, the entire fleet of the Indian Railway will be fitted with the bio-toilets. A senior railway official informed the Delhi High Court bench headed by the Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw during hearing of a PIL earlier this month.

Ajay Singh, Director of Mechanical (Development) told the Bench that by the 2021-22, all the coaches of Indian Railway will be fitted with bio-toilets. “Currently 500 bio-toilets have been fitted in the rail coaches and by the end of year 2,500 more of these toilets will be fitted in the coaches. By the year 2016-17, all the new rail coaches will be fitted with these green toilets,” said Singh. PIL was filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan. Singh informed the court that currently 50,000 coaches are in service and 4,000 coaches produced every year at Integrated Rail Coach factory.

The Bench asked the railways to speed up the process of installing the bio-toilets, on which Singh told the court that the existing rail coaches currently in use and which goes for periodic overhaul (maintenance) every one-and-half year. These toilets can be fitted once they go for periodic overhaul as it cannot be done at station and yards.

The bio-toilets will make stations and trains cleaner and would also solve the problem of manual scavenging which is also against the basic human rights. The new toilets will not only improve the environment on board for passengers but also help in preventing corrosion of rail track, which takes place due to the acidic nature of waste material. Railways have joined hands with the Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior for the development of bio-toilets.

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.

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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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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