Remember the last time you travelled by train? Great. Now, think of the toilet that you have to use in it. Did that make you feel disgusting? Unhygienic? Not anymore now!
Indian Railways have introduced the bio-toilet project. An innovative and indigenous development of technology for on board accelerated digestion of human waste.
The journey of train toilets is an interesting one.
For the major part of its life, the train toilet has been a dirty hole. Toilets were incorporated in every coach in 1909-1910. Okhil Chandra Sen, wrote a letter to the Sahibganj Divisional Office, West Bengal and conveyed his issues in not so great English though. The letter follows:
“I arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah in one hand and dhoti in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station.
This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report! to papers.”
Hilarious? Well, it is this letter which led to toilets being installed in coaches.
For more than a hundred years, these toilets have been a simple hole. People have come, used them, done their business and left. But they have not changed. The cleaners occasionally cleaned these toilets, though most of the time there was no water available to do so. Expensive trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi have had a stroke of slightly better luck when it comes to hygiene. For over 100 years, no one paid attention to the need to revamp the hygiene and sewage system in trains. Concerning this very reason, India became a joke for all the other pompous countries of the world to laugh on.
One could hear people complaining about the grim conditions of these toilets everywhere. Why would they not? Who else dumps human waste on train tracks as such? One cannot help but imagine how many people must have fallen ill because of this practice. The amount of trouble gangman have encountered while working on tracks is unthinkable. The odor and unhygienic conditions while repairing the tracks or during checking the tracks no doubt is not a great experience. The levels to which this practice must have contributed to unhygienic conditions is unimaginable. Successive governments post-independence did not spare a thought to find a solution to this problem.
It was only post 2014, as the people kicked out the status-quoists and ushered in Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, change was imminent. It is no secret that PM Modi has revamped and completely overhauled the Railway system of this country.
Piyush Goyal is currently leading the charge as Railways Minister to ensure that Indian Railways is brought at par with the railway services of western nations, and to even outshine them shortly. Cleanliness has been the main area of concern for the Modi government. Under Swachh Bharat, the Indian Railways, in collaboration with DRDO has done what no other nation ever has on this scale.
India has undertaken the largest exercise of installing bio-toilets in every coach of every train. A bio-toilet essentially consists of a chamber installed below the lavatories where the human waste is dumped.
Here, it is acted upon by bacteria and broken down into simpler molecules of gas and water. The gas is suspended in the atmosphere while the water is treated by chlorination and then released. This mechanism marks a departure from the practice of dumping human waste directly on tracks. This mammoth exercise has seen it’s implementation in more than 60,000 coaches. More than 2.2 lakh such bio-toilets have been installed so far. Last week, 853 bio-toilets were installed in various trains, Piyush Goyal informed. In the first 100 days of Modi government 2.0, around 24,500 bio-toilets have been installed. The aim, of course, is to install such bio-toilets in every coach.
For those people who are up in arms against PM Modi, insinuating him to be a man who has no sympathy for the environment and the climate, remember that none of your ‘socialist’ Prime Minster’s did what Modi is doing. The train toilets are being empowered on a large scale, and being made to function in an eco-friendly manner.