Very soon, the sight of dirty railway tracks at platforms may become a thing of the past.
The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, has developed “aerobic bio-toilets” which will use bacteria to biodegrade human waste into gas and water, which may be released later on.
One thousand of these “eco-friendly, zero-discharge” toilets will be installed on trains this financial year.
The RDSO is the only body of its kind in the country and the biggest in Asia, which looks after preparation of designs, standards and specifications for materials used by the railways.
Praveen Kumar Tiwary, director of the Carriage Unit (RDSO), said: “The technology was imported from a US-based company, Microphor, and Aikon Industries of Delhi has Indianised it. These toilets have been tried out in one rake of Delhi-Rewa Express and the results have been encouraging.”
While the RDSO and the IIT-Kanpur are responsible for the design of these toilets, Urbane Industries of Chennai will do the manufacturing part.
“Biodegraded material can be stored for 15 days in a tank to be emptied at the destination point. The odorless solid waste could also yield revenue as it can be turned into excellent manure after being dried up,” said an official.
According to Tiwary, the Defense Research and Design Establishment, Gwalior, has also developed a similar technology called “anaerobic bio-toilets” for stationary use. He said, “The technology, being tried out for its suitability in mobile use, is in the initial stages of development.” The Railways have planned to fit 20 rakes with bio-toilets in 2009-10.
IIT-Kanpur has also designed a similar toilet system, which works on solid-liquid separation. “Water is recycled for flushing purpose and the solid is taken out from toilet tanks periodically for composting in pits,” said an IIT-Kanpur official. He said prototype toilets had been installed in Chennai- Lucknow Express.