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Updated: August 31, 2013 14:33 IST

On board water conservation

T. S. Atul Swaminathan
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Prakash Vaithyanathan.
Special Arrangement Prakash Vaithyanathan.

Saving water in trains: a science teacher shows the way, wins international awards

‘Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.’ The line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner seems to have a ringing truth in it. With the problem of water scarcity escalating, conservation has become the order of the day. Prakash Vaithyanathan, a science teacher, has come up with a novel idea to save 5.11 billion litres of fresh water every year. I thought about water wastage in trains in India and came up with a plan to recycle it for further use. The used water from wash basins and toilets in the coaches can be collected, filtered and disinfected using a simple UV radiation method or ozone-based mechanism.

“This recycled water can be re-used for the toilets in trains, thereby bringing down the demand for fresh water. Though the Indian Railways was quite appreciative of my idea, the project cost has been a hindering factor,” Mr. Vaithyanathan says.

Letting water from trains run on track will do no good to the water table. Hence, it is advisable to re-use it. The toilet systems in the western countries do not require much water, but such a system will not work in India. The reasons being heavy dependence on energy and need for regular maintenance, he pointed out.

“A de-centralised option would work the best, and the way to go about this is to have sinks attached to every coach so that the energy requirements for pumping water to flush tanks can be reduced. The Indian Railways implemented my idea in one coach and photographs of the same are my prized possession and I use them to inspire my students. I believe, the real success of my project is not in its implementation, but in my students doing their bit to save water,” Prakash added. For this concept, Mr. Vaithyanathan won the ‘International Green Apple Award’ at a function organised at the House of Commons, U.K., and the ‘Green Hero Award' at the Tower of London, U.K. He can be reached at 95000 79411.

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