Indian Railways Going Green with Eco-Toilets

by , 05/15/08
filed under: Uncategorized

Indian Railways, rail travel in India, eco-toilets Indian Railways, travel in India, tourism in India, India by rail, Indian train travel, indiaecotrain1.jpg

Indian Railways has traveled many miles of tracks since its introduction in 1853. However, anyone who has traveled on Indian trains is fully aware that the facilities on board are lacking in more ways than one. Unhygienic toilets reeking of human excreta have left many a traveler with an unpleasant experience, and have been an environmental burden as well. But things are starting to change for the better. Indian rails will soon boast eco-friendly toilets, thanks to an initiative from the Honorable Minister of Railways Laloo Prasad Yadav.

The installation of eco-friendly toilets was announced by the Railway Minister during the presentation of the 2008-09 Indian Railway budget in the Parliament. There are two different technologies that will begin implementation with a testing phase. The first one was developed by the railway’s Research Designs and Standards Organization in Lucknow, with Microphor of the US and Faridadbad-based Aikon Technology. This system collects excreta into a tank, which is divided into 2 chambers. The waste is broken down in the first chamber within 6-7 days by enzymes produced by a patented bacterial culture. The leftover liquid from the first chamber flows into the secondary chamber where it is treated with chlorine before disposal. So far, eighty of these prototype bio-toilets were procured and installed on Prayagraj express and AP Express.

The other test toilet has been developed by a group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. These eco-toilets were developed under the Technology Mission on Railway Safety, and are based on chemical treatment. They are “zero-discharge” toilets that separate the solid and liquid part of the human waste. The solid part is collected in a container, and liquid waste is recycled and used for flushing. The system thus avoids depositing the human waste on the rails. This prototype toilet is being tested in one Chennai train.

When the test phase is complete, the Indian Railways plans to install eco-friendly toilets in its approximately 9,000 trains by 2011-13.

Via Got2BeGreen and DowntoEarth

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  1. S. VENKATRAMAN January 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    For such a huge population in trains, this bio-toilet is difficult to maintain

  2. Chithra Karunakaran November 9, 2008 at 9:37 am

    TTE corruption is rampant on IR

    Yeah going green on train toilets is fantastic provided they work.
    If they don’t they’ll STINK worse than ever.

    But what really stinks is flagrant bribe-taking by ticket examiners and equally flagrant bribe-giving by the public.

    When I am in India which is at least for five months every year I use ONLY PUBLIC MASS TRANSIT. No dumb SUVs and private cars for me. I ride our wonderful IR all the time. This is DEMOCRACY on wheels.

    But what is completely unacceptable that corruption by Ticket examiners (TTEs). They collect cash payments on their shift from everybody. I have NEVER given them a paisa, and never will.

    They “sell” berths to people who have not paid their fare to the IR. In fact the TTEs run a PARALLEL ECONOMY. An underground illegal economy that drains money from the IR.

    I have seen it happen right in front of my eyes whenever I ride the trains (second class of course, I am no elitist),
    of the Indian Railways.

    The PEOPLE have the power to change this by not giving bribes to TTEs.

    Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran

    New York, New York

  3. Za May 18, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    This is the same Laloo Prasad Yadav who blamed Indian Railways accidents as being “the providence of the gods” as opposed to enacting better maintenance regulations.

  4. Vivienne Harlow May 16, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Something I want to talk about is bioheat, it’s just one small measure that people can take in order to start living a greener lifestyle.

    Has anyone ever heard of it, or has switched to it? I want to start taking initiative in turning my home into a greener household, one way I have started is by switching out all my lightbulbs in my home to energy efficient lightbulbs. And I am also seriously considering switching over to bioheat as an alternative to regular oilheat. The thing that I love the most about it is that it’s completely clean burning, and is comprised of a b5 blend of oils which are derived from natural plant and vegetable sustainable resources such as corn, hemp, and avocados just to name a few. If you all want more information on how bioheat, just go on to I work with NORA to bring this info to you all!

  5. dianejwright May 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    “The leftover liquid from the first chamber flows into the secondary chamber where it is treated with chlorine before disposal.”

    I hope this means disposal in a proper waste treatment facility because chlorine, as we know, isn’t the greatest environmental addition. I wonder if they’ll be dumping the chlorine on the rails? Oish!

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