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Railways to install bio toilets in trains for stink-free stations

So far 35,000 coaches have been fitted with 1.4 lakh units of bio toilets across all the zonal railways.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2018 23:20 IST
Railways,Bio-toilets,Trains
For outstation trains that originate in Mumbai, 800 coaches on Western Railway and 1,000 coaches on Central Railway have been fitted with bio toilets. (File photo)

The railways is pushing to end the nauseating stink of human excrement at stations from train toilets with outlets that open to the tracks. The country’s largest public transporter is getting rid of these stinky lavatories and bringing in bio toilets — a composting loo that will recycle human waste with the help of aerobic bacteria.

The railways will soon install bio toilets in coaches of trains across all its zones, according to officials involved in the project to infuse some fresh air into the British-era transportation behemoth that operates the world’s fourth largest train network, running 7,000 passenger trains every day and ferrying more than 20 million people.

“So far 35,000 coaches have been fitted with 1.4 lakh units of bio toilets across all the zonal railways,” said Amit Garg, executive director in the railways’ environment and housekeeping department.

For outstation trains that originate in Mumbai, 800 coaches on Western Railway and 1,000 coaches on Central Railway have been fitted with bio toilets, railway officials said.

The railways aims to complete the installation in all of its 55,000 coaches by March 2019.

“The bio toilets will be crucial as it will help stop deposits at railway tracks,” said Ashwani Lohani, chairman of the Railway Board.

In the environment-friendly system, anaerobic bacteria present in bio tanks convert faecal matter into water and gas. After disinfection, the grey water is discharged on the tracks and the gases are released. The liquid waste is removed from the pipes during regular cleaning.

The bio toilets were fitted first in new coaches and then retrofitted in the old ones. This is done at railway workshops in Mumbai’s Parel, Bhopal and Jhansi.

The work has not been without glitches. A Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report in 2017 states that foul smell was found emanating from 223 bio toilets. Inspection indicated a problem with the flushing system and inadequate water supply.

“There have been complaints of smell coming from the bio toilets and at times the washrooms are clogged. Passengers unaware of the toilets throw plastic material, which hampers the breakdown of faecal material,” said a Western Railway official, who doesn’t want to be named.

The CAG report states that apart from Southern Railway, no other zone has conducted any specific passenger awareness drive to make people aware of bio toilets.

“Training railway staff to clean and maintain the bio toilets, especially during a long journey, is crucial. It needs to be done swiftly when the train halts at a station. This is why the onboard staff are also given training,” said a Central Railway official.

The railways has introduced a concept of green stations, which means all trains pulling into these stations should be 100% fitted with bio toilets. That is done to ensure tracks at stations are free from human waste. The stations in this plan includes Sri Mata Vaishno Devi in Katra, Rameswaram, Machilipatnam, Mysuru and Okha in Porbandar.

First Published: Mar 31, 2018 23:04 IST