New Delhi: The Indian Railways wants to become and be seen as environment-friendly, and initiatives towards this could earn it?some?carbon?credits too.
Minister Lalu Prasad also announced in his Railway Budget 2008-09 that the railways would spend Rs4,000 crore to set up green toilets in 36,000 coaches. Last February, Mint wrote about human waste corroding rail tracks, forcing the railways to replace some tracks once in two years on some stretches (tracks usually have a life of 30 years).
Prasad also announced that, in an energy-saving measure, the railways would replace 2.6 million bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) in 600,000 rail staff quarters. CFLs will also light up all stations, offices and other railways premises and save 200 million units of electricity annually. This will be funded through earnings from carbon credits under a public-private partnership, Prasad added.
The CFL initiative will be eligible for carbon credits because it saves power that is usually generated from coal or gas—both processes release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. On green toilets, the railways is testing three models: controlled discharge, biodegradable, and vacuum-retention toilets.
In controlled discharge, waste from toilets is discharged on the tracks only when the train travels beyond 30km/hr. Biodegradable toilets convert the waste via a microbial or chemical process into non-corrosive carbon dioxide or chlorinated liquid, and vacuum-retention toilets, like in aeroplanes, retain the waste in a storage tank.
Welcoming the green toilets proposal, Hari Sahay, scientist at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, said while the CFL plan was also commendable, the mercury in CFL was a problem “if not disposed off properly”.