NEW DELHI: Forget about missiles or battle tanks, the country’s premier defence research agency DRDO’s bio-toilets are getting blocked with major glitches. Indian Railways, the toilets’ main user, is getting hundreds of daily complaints from passengers from its 17 zones, and its top officials can’t find a solution.
Dr Y Ashok Babu, a senior microbiologist who was part of the E-loo project, has questioned the technology used and has written to the Defence Minister and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). He claims the imported bacteria worked perfectly well in the laboratory but not in Siachen, for which a solar panel heating system was added to accelerate the ‘digestion’ process. He says the bio-toilets, which are nothing but gobar gas plants, involve no technology and can be built by a village mason. He claims that officials conspired with some vendors to fool people; they just added bacteria from Antarctica, which is available in cow and buffalo dung.
A senior Railway official involved in the procurement of the bio-toilets from DRDO said, “Nowhere in the world are such toilets used in rail coaches except in India.” In response to an RTI, Railways authorities revealed no study was carried out before installing the toilets in coaches. “These toilets are not approved by UIC (international union of railways) or any other Railways Standard Organisation,” he said.
Claiming to be a ‘big failure’, Railways officials said 95 per cent of these toilets are faulty. The Railways planned to install 2.5 lakh toilets in all coaches by October 2, 2019.
The bio-toilets were invented by Gwalior-based Defence
Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) and Tezpur-based Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) to decompose biological waste generated by soldiers in high-altitude regions such as Siachen and Ladakh in 2012. After the Ministry for Rural Development—which spent Rs 1,000 crore for the project—the Railways has become its biggest user. The DRDO has made the transfer of technology agreement with 56 companies, which are producing bio-toilets at a cost of Rs 15,000 to Rs 75 lakh. DRDO officials refused to comment when contacted.
Indian Railways, the toilets’ main user, gets hundreds of daily complaints from passengers
Railways officials said
95 per cent of these toilets are faulty
Railways planned to install 2.5 lakh toilets in all coaches by October 2, 2019
The project cost Rs 1,000 cr
E-loo uses anaerobic microbial bacteria to decompose and convert biological human excreta into usable water and gasses