Railway stations in and around important temples like the Arulmigu Ramanatha Swami temple in Tamil Nadu, Dwarkadhish temple in Gujarat and Vaishno Devi in Jammu may soon become “discharge-free”.
Toilets in trains across India are being modified so that not a drop of toilet waste falls in the stations at such “holy” places. The temple town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu is set to get the first “discharge-free” railway station in the country — by the end of October or end of November, according to estimates.
Next in line are Katra in Jammu and Kashmir and Okha in Gujarat — the railway stations on the way to Vaishno Devi and Dwarkadhish temple respectively. Besides the temple towns, the plan includes Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace in Gujarat.
It is a logistical nightmare, as this means making all trains touching these sections “discharge-free”, no matter where they originate from.
For instance, there are 16 trains that connect Rameswaram to various parts of the country — which means modification of over 700 coaches scattered across India.
By the end of the exercise, 4,000 coaches would have been modified to stop discharging toilet waste on the railway tracks in the four sectors. An estimated 300 stations will partly benefit across these sections.
“Even if a single toilet from one train discharges in the targeted sections, the mission will be a failure. So we cannot let any train with traditional toilets pass by these stations,” Hemant Kumar, Railway Board Member (Mechanical) told The Sunday Express.
The Railways is already behind schedule. It wanted to finish a few sections, or at least Porbandar, by October 2 — the first anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. But the deadline was delayed due to design challenges and sheer logistics.
Now, the Rameswaram section looks set to be first one, with just 30-40 coaches awaiting modification. “We are finalising the discharge-free toilet design for the Sitting-cum-Luggage Rake (SLR) coaches which have toilets for the disabled and the guards. Once that is done, we are good to go,” said Kumar.
The railway station at Katra, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, is reportedly posing the biggest challenge. The number of trains to this station is increasing every quarter. A large number of special trains are also being introduced in the sector to cater to the rush during the summer season and Dussehra.