Indian Railway Contaminating & Polluting the Environment:- “Due to discarding untreated human Excreta into the open environment”-By team Albatross

Indian Railway Contaminating &   Polluting the Environment:-

“Due to discarding untreated human Excreta into the open environment


By Albatross-

Aswin Vijayan

Prasanth Sasidharan

Jiju Justin

IMK Senate House Campus, Palayam




Since all three of us in the group are regular commuters of Indian Railway (IR) ,  the first thing that got into our mind with respect to the assignment was that of the contamination & pollution of the environment by Indian Railway due to the discarding of untreated human waste or excreta into the open environment. Which we have tried to brief up, otherwise the topic will end up like an epic”.


The National Railways of India, a statutory body and is a ministry under the Government of India. As on today it holds a monopoly in the business of railways in the country. Its railway lines spin a web through the length and breadth of the country spanning over 63,940 km. It has over 216,717 wagons, 39,936 coaches and 7,339 locomotives and runs a total of 14,244 trains daily, including about 8,702 passenger trains and transports around six billion passengers annually across twenty-seven states and three union territories. A passenger train carries 1728passengers at a time all of whom require food, water and Lavatory facilities. Most of these passenger coaches have 4 toilets 2 each on either side of the coach the defecated Human Excreta from these toilets are directly discharged into the open tracks. The human excreta or the sewerage produced by these coaches are neither collected nor treated before they are dumped into the open environment.



It is now well established in Medical Science and in general knowledge as to the hazardous nature of human excreta and the health implications of its unguarded disposal into the open environment. Human excreta always contain large number of germs, which cause diarrhea, Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, other water borne diseases and parasitic infections. The numerous parasites like the Hookworm, Tapeworm, Roundworm, and Pinworm etc which are extremely dangerous are spread mainly through human excreta and which results in communicable diseases.

Most of the passenger coaches have four toilets. The human waste from these toilets is directly discharged onto the open tracks; the unhindered dumping of waste is resulting in unhygienic conditions that cause the spread of disease.

The seemingly innocent actions of the Railways contaminate the environment and promote unsanitary conditions, the very small strides made in sanitation & community health, magnify the propensity to spread diseases including Dengue and Chikungunya, the threat of which is very real on the State of Kerala and even the whole country. The action of the Indian Railways in dumping human excreta and sewerage into the open environment is patently illegal and a direct infringement of the right to life of the People of Kerala and all over the country. Germs from human waste can find their way into food and water, carried over by insects or animals, by runoff from the tracks during the rains or because waste falls directly into rivers and streams the trains pass over. So, a sick passenger can potentially spread the disease over a large area.

The railways appear to be aware of this problem as they have put up notices in some coaches requesting passengers not to use the toilets or throw any waste when the train is stationary.

All polluters are bound by law to dispose off toxic wastes. The Indian Railways should meet standards adopted by other railways across the world and install necessary pollution control and waste disposal mechanisms.

{The railway’s action flouts the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Indian Penal Code, 1860

The right to live in a pollution-free environment has been declared a fundamental right flowing directly from Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it said, claiming the railways build train compartments using outmoded technology and was unwilling to adopt modern practices.}

Suggestions / Solutions

Why not treat all that human excreta and food scraps through composting facilities,chemical retention tank Or a bio-digesters? Recycling could pay for the process, replacing a polluting wasteful practice with a sustainable economical system

Composting toilet

Some trains may also be fitted with composting toilet tanks, which use bacterial action to break down solid and liquid waste before releasing it to the track-bed by way of a chlorine sanitizing tank.

Chemical retention tank

Chemical retention tanks are usually present aboard in newer carriages and railcars in wealthier and more densely populated parts of the world. One issue is that the tanks need to be regularly emptied, usually when being attended at a terminal station or prolonged stop-over. If a train is required in service again within too short a period, the tanks may not get emptied. In this case, toilets may back up, which can result in toilets being closed. Another point of note is that carriages may have less “in service” time if fitted with chemical retention tanks



The bio-digesters use a special form of bacteria to treat the human waste in zero discharge toilets.. The regular cleaning with phenyl, soap, Kerosene etc will not kill these specially developed bacteria’s. The bio digesters do not require any septic Tank, Sewage Tank connectivity. (21 biodigesters have been installed under a pilot scheme in Lakshadweep). The waste treatment by the bio-digester is colourless and odourless, but, produces inflammable biogas (methane). . In zero discharge toilets, the effluent will be recycled for flushing purpose.



Indian Railway has initiated cleanliness activities in trains and stations but their efforts have not even reached grassroots level effectively.

The responsibility of maintenance of cleanliness on railway premises rests with a number of departments like, commercial, medical, engineering, mechanical, electrical etc, and the inefficiency is a result of poor coordination and co-operation between them. Inadequate infrastructure and resources and shortage of manpower in coach yards, inadequate number of dustbins and toilets in trains and improper maintenance are only some of the problem areas in managing solid waste in the IR.

Railways should expedite the process of providing ‘controlled discharge toilet system / zero discharge toilet system’ toilets in coaches to improve hygiene,” IR needs to lay down strict quality parameters for performance and pesticides used by the contracted agencies to ensure effective pest control.

To adapt the bio-digester for passenger trains, the Railways and the DRDO (Defense Research Development Organization) recently signed a MoU to co-develop a bio-digester; DRDO claims that the bio digesters are economically viable.

Indian Railways should strive to enhance the level of user awareness on a large scale and to initiate effective means of harnessing user perception to bring about improvements in the system.”




2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by RAINBOW on October 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    for our transportation purpose everyone depends on train due to the cheaper cost ,it only need less time.real problem which is on railway are mentioned in this assignment.and also suggest some solution for these problems. done a good job.


  2. Posted by poseidon on December 18, 2011 at 6:49 am

    The pollution created by trains and is faced by every citizen as well as the other all living & non living organisms in the country is a cause of concern and it is neglected by the responsible authorities without bothering for the health of the citizens and of the Country. Though the solution to this problem is very easy, and there is no need to go through major technical aspects only required thing is will to come over this problem by basically accepting that this problem exist. That is only willingness to try to get redress al of the problem. The problem must be studied at length and must be redressed as soon as possible otherwise the silent poisoning of the human beings and others will continue and causes increased respiratory illness, damage to plants and animals.


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