To tackle the issue of environmental degradation and corrosion of tracks due to toilet waste seeping on the lines, the railways plan to install Green Toilets in trains. Work began on the project some time back and a number of coaches are ready with the department, at their respective manufacturing units.
A major reason for the interest in the project is that the railways could save up to Rs 350 crore every year that it spends on waste decomposition from the tracks.
This year's railway budget mentioned that Kakodkar and Pitroda Committees, formed to recommend measures for modernization of railways, suggested that there was an urgent need to replace open-discharge toilets with Green Toilets for cleaner and safer railways eco-system.
Ludhiana station superintendent Ravinder Sharma said that the Design and Research Development Organisation had developed bio-toilets that were under extended trial to test their efficacy and suitability.
By June 2013, 2,500 coaches will be fitted with bio-toilets. Trial runs of retention-evacuation and vacuum toilets are also planned on a few premium trains such as Shatabdi Express.
Based on the results of the pilot project, more coaches would be equipped with green toilets.
"Disposal of waste on railway tracks creates a lot of stink, and makes it difficult for passengers to stand on station platform. The concept of "Green Toilets" would solve nearly half of our problems in making railways a hygienic and eco-friendly place," said, Manjit Singh Dhillon, a senior citizen.
Feroezpur divisional railway manager NC Goyal said that work was in progress on the project and would be given final shape by the first half of 2013. He added that a complete switchover to bio-toilets would be complete by 2016-2017.
Total elimination of direct discharge toilet systems in all passengers would be done by 2021-22.