To fulfill its commitment of providing a hygienic environment to passengers, the Indian Railways have expedited the work of fitting bio-toilets in train coaches. In the first four months of the current year, the railways have fitted 2,285 bio-toilets, which is much more than the entire number of bio-toilets fitted in the past three years. At present, the Indian railways are running 1,400 coaches with 3,800 bio-toilets in its various trains. The railways have fitted 2,285 bio-toilets in passenger coaches from April'13 to July'13 while only 1,337 bio-toilets were fitted in 2012-13, 169 in 2011-12 and only 57 in 2010-11. The first train, Gwalior-Varanasi Bundelkhand Express, fitted with bio-toilets is running since January 2011.
Talking to TOI, chief public relations officer of NCR Sandeep Mathur said, "We are committed for providing hygienic condition in the trains and introducing the provision of bio-toilets in the coaches is a step in this direction. There are about 89 coaches in the NCR zone in which bio-toilets have been fitted and in the coming days bio-toilets will be installed in more coaches." He further added that bio-toilets prevent corrosion of tracks as human waste does not fall on tracks. After receiving an encouraging feedback from the passengers and the railway maintenance staff, the pace of work of fitting bio-toilets in the passenger coaches has been ramped up. In its endeavour to take all the necessary steps to keep station premises clean, Indian Railways is now manufacturing all new conventional passenger coaches fitted with bio-toilets. The bio-toilets are fitted below the coach floor underneath the lavatories and the human waste discharged into them is acted upon by a colony of anaerobic bacteria that convert human waste into water and small amount of gases (methane and CO2).
The gases escape into atmosphere and the waste is discharged on the tracks after chlorination. This way of disposing human waste is environment friendly and keeps the railway tracks cleaner as well improving the working conditions for the railway track staff. However, the railways also seek cooperation of passengers for the success of this project as disposing plastic bottles, paper cups, cloth rags, sanitary napkin, diapers, poly bags and 'gutka' pouches etc choke these toilets and makes them defunct.
This environment friendly, low cost and robust technology has been developed jointly by the Indian Railways and Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) for railway passenger coaches and is the first of its kind to be introduced in railway systems in the world. The particular type of bacteria, which is used in this bio-toilet, has been carefully collected and analysed by DRDO from Antarctica and the efficiency of this system has been tested by DRDO in extreme climates and conditions like those at Siachen Glacier. The anaerobic bacteria used in these bio-toilets can not only survive extreme cold and heat conditions but can also survive when subjected to commonly available disinfectants. However, fitting such bio-toilets in coaches is technologically very challenging because it requires special technique of wielding to ensure the safety of the coach as it can not be compromised in any way.