All trains to have bio-toilets in the next five years

March 27, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:42 am IST - Mysuru:

The railway workshop at Ashokapuram in Mysuru will retrofit at least 150 coaches with bio-toilets every year.— Photo: M.A. Sriram

The railway workshop at Ashokapuram in Mysuru will retrofit at least 150 coaches with bio-toilets every year.— Photo: M.A. Sriram

Nearly 150 railway coaches will be retrofitted with bio-toilets every year at the Central Workshop at Ashokapuram in the city.

This is a part of the long-term drive to phase out conventional toilets in the next 5 years in all the coaches across Indian Railways in a bid to go environmental-friendly.

Till February this year, 23 coaches have been fitted with bio-toilets approved by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) Lucknow, according to Subba Rao, Chief Wokshop Manager.

He told The Hindu that all the new coaches being manufactured since 2012 at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Perambur and Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, have been fitted with bio-toilets. “But the pre-2012 coaches in operation have to be retrofitted with the bio-toilets and it was being done at the Mysuru and Hubbali workshops”, said Mr. Rao. The Mysuru division of the South Western Railway has nearly 500 coaches though not all of them will require bio-toilets as coaches are retired and consigned to scrap if they are 25 years old.

The Railway Board has permitted the zonal workshops to procure the bio-toilet units from manufacturers who have been provided with a standard design and technology by the RDSO. “But the retro-fitment takes places at the railway workshop”, he added.

Each unit weighs about 250 kg and retro-fitting each coach with four such units means adding one tone of weight to the coach which calls for strengthening the lower frame of the bogie, said P.A. Salahudheen, Deputy Chief Workshop Manager at the Central Workshop. “This calls for specialised techniques in wielding so that the appended unit is safely secured and safety of the coach - which will attains high speed- is not compromised”, he added.

Explaining the mechanism of the bio-toilets, Mr. Salahudheen said anaerobic bacteria – developed by DRDO and hence called ‘DRDO Bacteria’ – converts human waste into water and gas which is released through outlets. Water is subjected to chlorination and then discharged outside and the long-term impact will be a clean and environmental-friendly track that also facilitates a healthy working condition for those working on railway tracks. “Apart from being eco-friendly, workers find it easy to attend to coaches with bio-toilets as the under-frame tends to remain clean”, he added. However, there are minor issues related to the bio-toilets which pertain to behaviour of the passengers. “People tend to dispose newspapers, plastic water bottles, polythene bags and gutka pouches that clogs bio-toilets. But a new design providing for manually operated lever to clear the non-biodegradable materials has been made and installed”, according to Mr. Salahudheen.

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