Friendly measures to keep Railways clean

The Open Discharge toilets are costing the India Railways a staggering Rs 350 crore a year because of corrosion of tracks by night soil. The idea of green toilets has often been discussed in the past, but has not made such headway.

Unclean toilets, dirty stations and soiled rail tracks are a common sight at railway stations across the country. Reason being Manual Scavenging could not be abolished. Government announced to conduct a fresh survey in the month of January 2011 to identify locations of dry latrines and the number of manual scavengers in the country. However the survey is still not initiated.

As of now there are almost 43,000 coaches being operated by the Railways and, therefore, 1.72 lakh toilets. As of now, only 135 bio-toilets have been put in place, and railways intend to take this number to 500.

The Government is also planning to introduce a new Bill in Parliament further strengthening present bills of manual scavenging and insanitary latrines. Provision would be made for proper rehabilitation of manual scavengers in alternative occupations so that they are able to lead a life of dignity.

Considering the previous law of abolishing Manual Scavenging was legislated in 1993, but Railways has been able to convert only 135 out of 1.72 lakhs toilets into bio-toilets, formulating of laws does not seem a solution.

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