Tag Archives: bio-toilets

Railways sets a new target: 1.40 lakh bio-toilets to be installed by 2019.

Stepping up efforts to make environment better, the railways has set a target to install bio-toilets in all coaches to ensure the entire rail network as zero discharge zone by 2019.
“Our target was to install bio-toilets in all our coaches by 2021. But now we have advanced it to 2019,” Railway Board Chairman AK Mital said at the World Environment Day function in New Delhi.

According to the action plan, railways will install 1.40 lakh bio-toilets in about 55,000 coaches in the next three years.
Railways has installed about 37,000 bio-toilets in coaches till now.

Referring to the severe water crisis that the country is facing, Mital said there is a need to save every drop of water.

Railways has also set a target of increasing the use of bio-diesel upto 5 per cent of its total diesel consumption and also to focus on clean fuel like solar and wind energy to reduce emission in a significant way.

Besides, it will ensure environment friendly disposal of all kinds of waste being generated in the rail premises while setting up waste to energy plants at major stations.
“Whether it is for horticulture purpose, washing platforms or coaches potable water should not be used,” he said adding “washing plants are being set up to recycle water.”
Currently railways has about 32 water recycling plants and is generating about 12 million water per day.

“Our target is to reach 200 million litres per day by setting up more such plants at major stations in the coming years,” he said.
Besides recycling plants, railways has conducted energy audits and water audits to reduce energy and water use in a considerable way.
On air quality, he said “It is very important to reduce the emission level through use of clean fuel and also by increasing rail share in transportation.”
Mital said there is also a move to shift road traffic to rail and for that investment in rail infrastructure has increased in comparison to the past.

Currently railways share is about 30 per cent and we want it to increase upto 45 per cent to 50 per cent, he added.
Railways has also undertaken series of steps to plant trees and preserve water bodies at railway land across the country.

In order to carry out the environment-related projects in a focused manner, railways has created a separate directorate for it.
It has also been decided that one per cent of cost of each rail works will be earmarked for environment projects.

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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Uncategorized



Railways sign agreement for upkeep of bio-toilets

Alarmed by the rate of failure of bio-toilets fitted in 53 coaches of trains maintained by Bhusawal division, largely because of the people not following instructions, has forced Railways to enter into annual maintenance contract with an agency.

“The Bhusawal Division has fitted bio-toilets manufactured jointly by Indian Railways and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 53 coaches maintained by it. At the same time, the division has also been given the responsibility of maintaining toilets of Amravati Express – which was earlier done by Mumbai. We have, therefore, decided to go for annual maintenance contract,” a senior official from Bhusawal Division, Central Railways said.

The division had installed bio-toilets in 53 coaches and most of them were installed in the passenger trains used by rural crowd. “Lack of awareness among passengers and the habits of throwing all the waste down the traditional toilet block chokes these bio-toilets resulting in calling for service a large number of times,” the senior officer said.

When asked about the rate of failure, the officer said it was difficult to point out given the fact that they were brought in for maintenance randomly – some after a week’s time and others after three months or even more.

“One thing is for sure that the maintenance required is very high and this is largely arising out of the wrong usage of the toilets. If people stick to guidelines, we will not require the toilets to be visited at least for six months – or even more time – except for the regular cleanliness,” the officer added.

The bio-toilets contain anaerobic bacteria that breaks down human excreta into methane and other gases that escape in the air and into water that falls on the tracks without affecting the cleanliness of the area.

“The maintenance of recharging the bacteria is required if it is below specific concentration. Hence, we are planning to give the system on contract for maintenance and once this is established we are also planning to increase the numbers of coaches from current 53 to at least 100 in the near future,” the officer said.

The menace – according to the officers – was the plastic containers such as water bottles, wrappers of snacks, the gutkha packets that affected the system frequently.

The officer said the Railways was carrying out all possible measures to ensure the people do not fiddle with the toilet blocks. They were airing a message through the audio and visual mode at railways stations, posters in coaches fitted with the equipment, messages and pictures about the things to do.

“We have also put up dustbins inside the toilets so that the people do not drop waste through the toilet blocks,” the officer said.

The Bhusawal Division has fitted bio-toilets manufactured jointly by Indian Railways and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 53 coaches maintained by it. At the same time, the division has also been given the responsibility of maintaining toilets of Amravati Express

The Bhusawal Division has fitted bio-toilets manufactured jointly by Indian Railways and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 53 coaches maintained by it. At the same time, the division has also been given the responsibility of maintaining toilets of Amravati Express.


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Posted by on April 10, 2016 in Uncategorized



Railways sets target for bio-toilet installation

The railway board has taken up the task of ensuring all railway coaches meet this financial year’s target of installing bio-toilets in coaches. Zonal railway offices will be required to submit monthly progress reports to the board.

In Pune division, 475 bio toilets have been installed in 156 coaches. Besides, a ‘clean my coach’ SMS facility has been successfully started on Pune-Jammutavi-Jhelum express. Officials say they get about 50 SMSs every day.

Discharge on tracks is an environmental concern and creates problem for railway workmen. The environment-friendly toilets are expected to ensure zero discharge on tracks. While all new coaches are now fitted with bio-toilets, the existing ones have been retrofitted.

In his maiden budget speech in February, railway minister Suresh Prabhu had said that the railways intend to install 17,000 more bio-toilets in coaches this year. The minister said the railways have already installed over 17,300 such toilets.

While the target is for installing 17,000 units, the zonal railways had placed demands for only over 8,800 units, as per a circular issued by the railway board in the month of July. The board has advised railways and production units to take necessary steps for exceeding the target of 17,000 toilets. It has also asked zonal offices to expedite the procurement process and finish installation work at the earliest.

The ‘clean my coach’ SMS facility has been well received in Pune. Posters have been put in all coaches of Jhelum express. If a cleaning facility is required, the passenger has to dial the PNR number and send it to 56677. The on board house keeping services is expected to respond quickly. After the work is done, the passenger receives a code number, which he has to send back to 56677 to confirm the work is done. Railway officials said the facility will be extended to other trains too.

The Jhelum express has been provided with garbage disposal facility. Railway officials said it is helping them keep the coaches clean.

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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Trying to keep its carbon footprint to bare minimum

The Delhi division of the Northern Railway handles a fleet of 650 passenger trains and caters to nearly nine lakh passengers daily.

While managing operations at this scale is challenging enough, the division is trying to keep its carbon footprint to a bare minimum.

From CNG-run trains to bio-toilets, solar panels on train rooftops, plantation drives, and LED lights at stations, the division is doing its fair share to go green.

The Delhi division has introduced CNG-run trains on four sections: Shamli-Delhi, Rohtak-Rewari, Delhi-Kurukshetra, and Delhi Sarai-Farrukhnagar. “The effort to convert railway engines to CNG has been pioneered by the Northern Railway. Its diesel shed at Shakurbasti carried out structural changes in one of the existing driving-powered coaches to convert it to CNG-diesel mode,” said a Northern Railway spokesperson.

Apart from solar power plants at stations and offices, the Northern Railway has installed solar panels on rooftops, with one prototype already in operation.

The Delhi division has started afforestation in railway land wherever possible including a Bougainvillea plantation done between the New Delhi and Tilak Bridge stations. The initiative is not only eco-friendly, but also deters people from throwing filth on railway land.

The division has also installed 750 bio-toilets in 260 coaches this year. These toilets have tanks containing anaerobic bacteria beneath the lavatory that converts human waste into water and gas. The division is also planning to carry out water audits to assess consumption and wastage of water at stations like New Delhi, Delhi junction, and Hazrat Nizamuddin. A one million per day waste water recycling plant is under construction at the New Delhi Washing Line Complex. The recycled water would be used for washing and horticulture purposes.

Meanwhile, LED lights are being fitted in train coaches to improve illumination and reduce energy consumption. LED lights have also been installed at tower lighting, platform lighting, foot over-bridges, service building, conference halls, hospitals, schools, and street lighting under Delhi division. division of the Northern Railway

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Posted by on November 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Engineers Tweak Design to ‘trap’ Foul Smell in Bio Toilets

Faced with numerous complaints across the country over foul smell from bio-toilets in train compartments spreading to passenger seats, engineers at the Southern Railway’s carriage workshop at Perambur have tweaked the design of the exit pathway to resolve the issue.

The modification, known as S Trap, has been made by employing a simple, yet effective concept in fluid mechanics known as ‘siphon effect’. This utilises the momentum generated by the flow of the water to push the faecal matter into the bio-toilet tank. The arrangement also maintains an effective ‘water seal’ between the tank and toilet, which prevents emanation of foul smell.

Passengers seated on berths nearest to the toilets were the worst affected by the foul smell emanating from the bio-toilets, with the Railways receiving a multitude of complaints regarding this, officials stated, explaining the reason for the alternative design.

In the earlier design, the faecal matter would drop down towards a a ball valve and racket pinion arrangement, also known as a P trap (see illustration). The night soil would have to be travel diagonally upwards by the force of the water column above it. The water column was supposed to maintain the water seal to block the foul smell from the tank into the lavatory. But, the faecal matter deposited on the ball-valve led to its corrosion, which breaks the water seal, leading to foul smell from the tank spreading into the coach. The S trap design has completely done away with this ball valve arrangement and used a horizontal S design for the chamber (see illustration), which is also narrower.

This also eliminates another major issue faced by railway officials with the earlier design of bio-toilets where napkins, beer bottles and other such waste dumped by passengers into the toilet opening led to choking of ball valve arrangement, railway officials said.

The S trap arrangement has been in-principle approved by the Railway Board Member (Mechanical) on his recent visit to Chennai and has been installed in three coaches in Southern Railway. The performance is being monitored on a day-to-day basis and is likely to be implemented  in trains running across the country after a 6- month trial run, railway officials said.

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized



Southern Railway Showcases Bio-toilets in Expo, Lab Coming in Ramnad

As part of plans to convert Rameswaram as one of the first green stations in the country, the Madurai division of Southern Railway inaugurated a special exhibition to demonstrate the working and explain special features of the environment friendly bio-toilets at the station on Wednesday.

The Railway Ministry has mooted the concept of green stations where all coaches of every train arriving or departing from that particular station would be fitted with zero-discharge bio-toilets. Along with Rameswaram, the Railways had decided to convert Okha, Porbandar and Katara as green stations. The exhibition is a step for knowledge sharing on the subject, Southern Railway officials said.

The exhibition explained the features of bio-toilets and how the system handled the human waste. Bio-toilets have been developed by the DRDO and utilises anaerobic bacteria to digest the human waste, leaving a less smelly and non-polluting liquid discharge on the tracks.  A bio-toilet lab, which will test the efficacy of the toilets has also been set up at the Rameswaram station. Each bio-toilet has an inoculum of 120 litres of bacteria at the start and further injection of bacteria will be based on the results of tests conducted at the laboratory. The bacteria was procured from Nagpur and costs `16 per litre, a Southern Railway official said.  Once every three months, the anaerobic bacteria will be loaded in iron canisters on to the coaches and once every 45 days, the discharge from the bio-toilets will be taken and tested in the biolab as to how effectively the bacteria has been killed. This will be done periodically to ensure that the bio toilets function very effectively.

In case of where human waste is more acidic in nature, the inoculum bacteria gets expended more and in case of alkaline substance, the inoculum bacteria will remain for longer time in canisters and will be able to help the disposal of human waste, an official explained. Indian Railways has two ways of ensuring that coaches are fitted with bio-toilets; first, using the latest ICF coaches where these toilets are fitted, while the other method is to retrofit the toilet module in older coaches for which `1lakh per coach is spent.

Bio-toilets have been installed in a total of 282 coaches in the Madurai division, of which 145 are in the Rameswaram section. “Twenty-nine more coaches of trains from other zones in India need to be fitted with bio-toilets and we have officially communicated to them,” an official said.

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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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East or West, a Potboiler Spells Toilet Trouble for Railways’ Babus

Call it the toilet trouble of rail ministry mandarins. These days, they are in a Catch-22 over the choice of toilet styles—Indian or western—in the public carrier.

Almost a century after lavatories were first introduced in the official transport, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has initiated a debate after he received requests from passengers about the need to have more western toilets in coaches.

Railways is now proposing to have a 3:1 ratio of western and Indian toilets from the reverse 1:3 at present in most of the coaches barring AC 1 and Shatabdis and Rajdhanis, in which the ratio is 2:2. It has also commissioned a survey seeking preference of passengers, before going ahead with any changes in over 53,000 coaches.

The debate has led to two different views. Majority of Railway Board members feel that more western toilets are suitable keeping in mind convenience of passengers as squatting is a major drawback in Indian toilets. But officials in charge of maintenance of coaches call it a bad idea as the biggest problem with western toilets is maintaining hygiene and keeping them clean with huge volumes of travellers using them.

“The idea came from the Minister of Railways after elderly passengers wrote to him that he should look into increasing western toilets for convenience of old people who find it difficult to use Indian toilets. The proposal was discussed by the Railway Board and it was said that number of western toilets should be increased to three from one per coach now,” said a senior Railways official.

The official said the ground reality is that even western toilets are not usable, except in first AC, after few hours of travel due to cleanliness issue.

“Our passengers come from all kinds of background and I am sorry to say that most of them are not aware of toilet etiquettes. They are in the habit of throwing stuff ranging from gutka packets to chips packets to sanitary pads in the pot. It is difficult to clean western toilets once they gets chocked, which happens quickly when compared to Indian toilets,” he said.

Moreover, the share of travellers above 50 years of age is around 25 to 35 per cent, while 65 to 75 percent are in the below 50 years category, which means they can use the Indian toilets.

“Apart from the unreserved category, all coaches have one western toilet and we feel that it is enough to cater to old people. We also need to keep in mind the volume of passengers we cater to, and for that the Indian toilet system is best suited,” the official added.

Another suggestion was to have vacuum toilets on the lines of those in aircraft and in trains in western countries. But for that, Indian Railways needs to upgrade available infrastructure with suction pumps, sewage treatment or disposal facility and manpower. This would entail huge cost for the ailing public sector behemoth.

The move comes at a time when the Railways is already struggling to find a solution to problem of clogging of bio-toilets by passengers who throw rubbish in the system. Under the ‘Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat’ programme, the Railways has kept a target to eliminate direct discharge toilets from its entire fleet of passenger coaches by 2020-21.

One-fourth of the bio-toilets get choked because of passenger dropping polythene, gutka wrappers and other items and after being clogged, it becomes unusable till the system installed under the coach is cleaned.

For the 2015-16 fiscal, Railways has set the target to fit 17,000 bio-toilets in long-distance trains. All new coaches would be fitted with bio-toilets by 2016-17, while the retrofitting of existing coaches with bio-toilets will continue.

New Indian Express

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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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