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.

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