The National Green Tribunal (NGT) of the western region — in a petition praying for directions to the railway to complete installing bio-toilets in all its outstation coaches by 2019 — has refused extra time sought by the railway till 2021 to complete the work. The NGT has asked the railway to comply with the petition’s prayer. The bench also refused to accept the railway’s contention that it had limited resources and it would be possible to install bio-toilets in 55,000 outstation coaches only by 2021-22.
The petition filed by Mukta Sathe and other citizens, including students, was heard by the western zone bench of the NGT in Pune. The petition pointed out that railway tracks were being debased due to human excreta and waste being dumped there while trains were in motion. The petition said that not only was this unhygienic, it was also archaic needed to be upgraded by equipping railway coaches with eco-friendly bio-toilets.
The railway ministry while submitting data and current status of installation work informed the bench that there were 55,000 coaches in service where 220,000 bio-toilets were required. The railway said that of these, around 54,188 bio-toilets had already been fitted in the coaches by 2016 end. It further submitted that taking into consideration the remaining coaches and resources available with the railway, it would be possible to install bio-toilets in all coaches by 2021-22 only.
However, the bench comprising Justice U.D. Salvi and expert Dr P.C. Mishra did not give in to the request to extend the deadline and directed the railway to complete the task latest by December 31, 2019. The bench had earlier directed the rail ministry to place before the court the year-wise programme spelling out number of coaches to be equipped with bio-toilets, and constraints, if any, in speeding-up the process.