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.