Rail Budget: Introduction of vacuum toilets likely

New Delhi: Water conservation initiatives such as introduction of environment-friendly vacuum toilets and changes in the design of existing lavatories in trains are some of the proposals likely to be announced in the forthcoming Rail Budget.

According to a senior Railway Ministry official, a concrete plan of action for water management at stations and trains will be reflected in the Rail Budget 2015-16 to be announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who is keen on
promoting environment-friendly activities in the transporter.

Railway Ministry will also announce the grand plan of water audit across the rail system in the country. The official said that since vacuum toilet consumes one-fourth less water than the existing lavatories, Railways is keen to try it in some selected trains.

There is a plan to install 80 vacuum toilets in Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi Express on a trial basis and a budgetary provision is likely to be made for it in Prabhu's maiden rail budget, he said.

Environment-friendly and vacuum-based toilets prevent corrosion of rail tracks as they stop waste discharge on the
tracks, he added. Railways will tie up with civic authorities to make the vacuum toilet system operational, as it entails construction of safety tanks and sewerage link for the disposal of waste at stations.

The official, however, clarified that installation of bio-toilets in trains will continue with some minor design
change in it. "Replacement of conventional toilet with bio-toilet will continue as it is the stated policy of
Railways to have environment-friendly hygienic toilet system in the entire rail system," he said.

"Certain modifications in the bio-toilet design is required to make it function more smoothly," he added. Malfunctioning of bio-toilets were reported in some cases during the trial run. "Steps are being taken to tackle it with some changes in the design."

Apart from trains, Railways is planning to install bio-toilets at stations also. The change in the design in existing toilets is also to make them more user-friendly and hygienic as improving passenger amenities will be focus area in the budget proposal.

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