Mumbai: One of the biggest complaints of gangmen, the caretakers of the train tracks, clad in orange and khaki uniforms, is having to deal with ‘other people’s business’ – the debris and human waste, in the line of duty. But relief is at hand, with the Indian Railways having eliminated one of the sources causing human waste to be deposited on tracks. Bio-toilets have been installed on all coaches of long-distance trains - 2,58,906 of such units in 73,078 coaches - which means an end to the days of excreta being tossed on the railway tracks, at least 2.74 lakh litres of it, according to Indian Railways officials.
In Mumbai too, there are several stretches on Central and Western Railways – stations like Mahim, Govandi, Wadala, Kurla and Jogeshwari – that have been facing this problem for years.
“It is a terrible task trying to maintain tracks, fix faults and detect technical failures amid the human excreta coupled with debris and muck lying on tracks,” said a gangman on condition of anonymity.
Human waste, according to railway officials, lead to corrosion of rails and fittings, causing an additional expenditure of Rs 400 crore per annum. This unwanted cost has now been curtailed, thanks to the installation of the bio-toilets. “Work on these bio vacuum toilets has already begun, which will also reduce the water required for flushing. We have installed this system in 1,372 LHB coaches and have received the sanction for fitting them inside 8,500 coaches,” said another senior railway official.
‘In-house’ toilets have also been provided for loco pilots or drivers of long-distance trains, within the locomotive itself. Sources said that around 45 diesel and electric locomotives have been provided with water closet facilities, with 300 more diesel locomotives having been fitted with urinals.
Further, the railways has added another tool to its cleanliness drive by bringing in integrated mechanised cleaning at stations. Under this, separate dust bins for wet and dry waste have been provided at all major stations, for segregation of waste at source. CCTV use has been intensified for monitoring of cleanliness activities. Recently, The Free Press Journal had reported on the new high-definition CCTVs installed by WR to identify unclean spots on station premises and send signals.