Railway track and stations will be cleaner in the days to come, with the railways deciding to install bio-toilets in all coaches in a phased manner. It, however, cautioned that the success of the project would depend upon the cooperation and discipline of passengers.
The decision comes close on the heels of an offer made by the Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to share 50 per cent of the cost from the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The offer pertains to retrofitting bio-toilets that the railways have developed jointly with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 50,000 passenger coaches.
For this, about two lakh units will be required. Bio-toilets will be built in new coaches and the railways will bear the cost themselves. Retrofitting of bio-toilets will also involve the DRDO and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The railways will bear 50 per cent of the cost.
In bio-toilets, the waste is converted into water and gases — methane and carbon dioxide. The waste will be treated by bacteria, which are benign to humans. While the gases get released into the atmosphere, the water will be discharged after chlorination. By completely eliminating the fall of human waste on the track, bio-toilets will help in checking depreciation of coaches and track by preventing corrosion.
During field trials, it was found that passengers used the bio-toilet as a garbage bin. The toilets were blocked by various objects rendering the system non-operational. Plastic bottles, tea cups, cloth, sanitary napkins, poly bags and gutka pouches, among other articles, were found in the toilet pans.