NEW DELHI: Rail passengers will soon be served tea, snacks and meals in kulhads and other earthenware plates at 400 major stations across the country in deference to the wish of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India free from single-use plastic.
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) will be providing 30,000 electric potter wheels and also grinding machines to recycle/crush the earthenware, its chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena told PTI.
"We are giving 30,000 potter wheels this year which can be used to produce 2 crore kulhads and other terracotta utensils daily," he said, adding the process should start within 15 days.
The Ministry of Railways has already directed all Principal Chief Commercial Managers of different Zonal Railways and CMD IRCTC "to further proliferate use of locally-produced environment-savvy terracotta products like kulhad, glasses and plates for serving catering items at 400 railway Stations across Indian Railways", said Saxena.
KVIC had earned kudos for its 'Kumhaar Sashaktikaran Yojana' (Potters' Empowerment Plan), which the Commission claims brought significant positive changes in the lives of potters across the country.
The Railways is already using pottery products at Varanasi and Rae Bareilly railway stations in Uttar Pradesh.
Consequent to its success at the two stations, MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari had written a letter to his Railways counterpart Piyush Goyal for issuing necessary directives to the concerned officials for adoption of locally-produced pottery products for serving tea, lassi and other food items in earthenware to enhance income of potters.
Saxena has also urged the railways ministry to conduct an internal survey to get the feedback from Varanasi and Rae Bareilly stations, where the public transporter had adopted terracotta products.
The feedback was reportedly very good and plastic menace had been reducing at both the stations that made the railway minister very happy, he said.
Referring to Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana, he said till end-March 2019, KVIC has already distributed 10,620 electric potter wheels along with adequate blungers, pug-mills and electric kilns, which produce about 75 lakh kulhads and other terracotta items per day.
In his address to the nation from Red Fort on Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi had given a clarion call to free India from single-use plastic.
He had called upon the citizens to give up single-use plastic by October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
According to the Environment Ministry, about 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day in the country and out of which only 13,000-14000 tonnes are collected.
Meanwhile, the Railways has set a target of installing plastic water bottle crushers in 407 of its stations in metros and big cities.