A BIO-WASTE MANAGEMENT MODEL FOR INDIAN RAILWAYS : REVIEW FEEDBACK REQUESTED
The amount and variety of wastes generated from a long-distance train in India is alarming. However, with the new technologies paving their way for waste-energy route, the following proposal may be useful for converting meaningless wastes into meaningful energy + revenue for the railways. The readers are requested to review the proposal and provide their valuable inputs so that a compilation can be sent to Indian Railways with implementation request.
Based on my understanding and observation, in a long distance passenger train, wastes generated can typically be classified into CATEGORY (I) i.e. purely bio-degradable substances (e.g. fruit peel, accidentally fallen bread piece etc.); CATEGORY (II) bio-degradable substances contained in/mixed with non-biodegradable materials (e.g. leftover food contained in knotted plastic bag, closed aluminium foils etc.); and CATEGORY (III) non-biodegradable substances (used coffee/tea cups, papers, plastic bottles of packaged drinking water etc.).
Assuming that a train fitted with bio-toilets travels a total distance of 2,500 (Two Thousand And Five Hundred) kilometres and in this journey the train encounters 1 (one) major station at a distance of every 250 (two hundred and fifty) kilometres. So the total number of major stations encountered in the entire route is 10 (ten). For the purpose of this write up Major Station means a station which provides facilities for filling water, canteens/eateries etc (e.g. Nagpur, Ahmedabad etc).
(i) Creating mechanism to store the bio-gas generated from bio-toilets in the coaches (e.g. a bio-gas holder at the bottom of the coach linked to the bio-toilets);
(ii) Revamping interior design of coaches to make provisions for CATEGORY (I) And CATEGORY (II) & (III) waste bins;
(iii) CCTV cameras covering areas inside the coach/near joints to catch instances of violation and impose instant fines on initial stages (to create fear and awareness, keys to success of this project); and
(iv) Making bio-gas (raw) storage, purification, compression and filling systems available in major stations.
When the train arrives at a major station, the bio-gas stored in the coach gas holder will be transferred to the raw bio-gas storage tank in the station (“RBST”). Further, bio-wastes from CATEGORY (I) bins will be transferred to anaerobic digester linked to RBST. Gas stored in the RBST will be purified and compressed into bio-gas cylinders. The bio-gas cylinders can be commercially utilized by catering organizations running canteens/food-court at stations as well as in trains. As far as non-biodegradable but recyclable wastes are concerned, the same can be auctioned over to plastic recycling factories at a price.
(i) Commercial utilization of major part of wastes resulting into revenue generation for the railways;
(ii) Reduction in the use of LPG in station food-courts/canteens as well as in pantry cars.