Decentralised waste management in Indian railways: a preliminary analysis

The Indian Railways has installed a waste to energy (WtE) plant for biodegradable waste in its residential colony at Kishanganj in Delhi and has plans to build two more WtE projects at New Delhi and Jaipur railway stations. Kishanganj WtE plant has a capacity to process one tonne of biodegradable waste daily and produce 70-80 units of electricity, which is being utilised for street lighting. IR has also piloted different types of toilets onboard trains and is increasingly adopting bio-toilets over traditional- open discharge type toilets. As of FY 2013-14, about 9,587 such toilets had been fitted onto the railway coaches and IR has targeted to fi t all newly manufactured coaches with bio-toilets by 2016-17. The Kanlas-Dwarka-Okha section will be the fi rst zero toilet discharge section of IR and subsequently plans to retrofi t the entire stock of coaches with similar arrangements by 2021-22. As of 2015-16, IR had installed about 30 Water Recycling Plants and 12 Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs). More such plants will be required at all major stations in the future. Some of the other notable initiatives also include the Environmental Management System (EMS) accreditation across all 6 Production Units and 23 major Railway Workshops. These initiatives indicate IR’s core strategy to move towards the development of decentralised infrastructure to manage its own waste rather than being completely dependent on municipal systems. This preliminary research work looks into opportunities for deployment of decentralized infrastructure to manage IR waste in a sustainable manner.