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Rail budget gives green light for solar power, clean fuels

business Updated: Feb 27, 2015 00:50 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
Indian railways

The Indian railways took a step towards becoming green on Thursday, with rail minister Suresh Prabhu announcing a slew of environmentally friendly measures — from the generation of 1,000 MW of solar power to running more trains on cleaner fuels like Compressed Natural Gas.

Prabhu, who was environment minister in the last NDA regime, has also set up a special cell — Environment Directorate — to improve green practices in the railways, which primarily run on fossil fuels. “To reduce dependence on fossil fuels, it is intended to expand sourcing of solar power for railways,” Prabhu said, in his budget speech.

He added that the railway would adopt LED lights and appliances as part of the energy conservation drive.

“A detailed energy audit will reveal huge potential for energy saving,” he said, adding that the railways — the biggest energy consumer in India — has a huge potential to save energy.

Another green component in his speech was the introduction of bio-toilets. “So far, we have replaced the existing toilets with 17,388 bio toilets. This year we intend to replace another 17,000 toilets,” he said.

Prabhu’s budget saw the railways venturing into newer environmental areas — reducing noise levels in wildlife areas. “We will demonstrate our sensitivity to the wildlife by factoring in concerns related to their environment,” he said. In the past, the ministry had announced plans to build access points for wildlife to cross without hindering rail traffic.

Prabhu also touched on the water conservation mission of the railways, and said after an audit, water recycling plants will be set up at major water consumption centers.