Sunday, 20th August, 2017

Citizen’s panic over Indian Railways plans to convert human waste into water

26, Jul 2014 By planetdeepak

Indian Railways today, announced its new Bio Toilets Project which-if-successful will convert human waste into water. The Ministry said that the water obtained from the bio-toilets will be consumed for ‘useful-purposes’ in trains and on stations.

When asked to elaborate on ‘useful purposes’ a railway official informed that a team is currently conducting a study on how such water can be used and will come up with a detailed report. The official however did not rule out the possibility of using it for drinking, washing and cooking purposes.

Panic spread amongst citizens, as the ministry informed that their experts have already conducted trials in few trains in the previous month. Citing confidentiality, he refused to share the train details but assured that the preliminary results are very ‘encouraging’.

It being our duty to ‘pursue truth’ to the minute details, our investigative reporter tracked down Ram Bharose (name changed), lab technician who tested some of the samples obtained from the trials.

According to Ram Bharose the trials were a big farce. Even after handling the waste in many different ways the experts were unable to squeeze even a single drop of water from it. In fear of losing their jobs as well as reputation the experts merely filtered and boiled the flush water and faked it as preliminary results which the official signed as ‘encouraging’.

rail track
Old model toilet.

“We are not even close to the minimum acceptable standards of usable-water yet the Railways made this premature announcement. Indian Railways is under tremendous pressure to provide modern facilities ever since it hiked the rail fares” claimed Mr. Bharose.

The news of trials spread like a wild fire. Ram Bharose’s revelation added fuel to the fire.

Passengers who undertook a train journey in last month are highly aggrieved over Railways keeping them in dark all the time.

“We feel cheated. Railways used us as guinea pigs,” said a furious passenger who travelled by train to attend a wedding in the trial duration.

“Ever since the Bio Toilet news broke out I’m recalling where all I used water in train in the past month.  On few occasions I did get suspicious about the quality of water, but I ignored it as any frequent traveler of Railways would do. Now I’m continuously vomiting with each incident of water use I recall,” said Jeevan, a Medical Representative.  Jeevan has taken leave from his office and is serious on resigning, if the Railways do not come clean on the project in the next few days.

Succumbing to the citizen’s uproar, Railways in a face saving exercise issued a press statement. Railways assured the public that the water obtained from the trails was not used for consumption. In the next phase of trials, the IRCTC website will list all trains undergoing Bio Toilet trials under the category of ‘eco-friendly trains’. Those passengers who wish to contribute for a national cause can book tickets in such trains.

Railways will also offer tickets at a very nominal rate for eco-friendly trains. The rider is that the passengers need to sign a NDA (non disclosure agreement) with Railways. According to Railways signing of NDA is a standard R&D practice. The booking for these trains is expected to open on Independence Day.

Only time will tell, if the waste-turned-water is good enough for our consumption. Till such time Vasu, an engineering student from IIT, suggests a much better application.  In an email send to Faking News Vasu explains that the water form Bio Toilets can be used to develop hybrid engines that run on steam and diesel.

Vasu however cautioned that hybrid engines will be successful only if it receives full co-operation of passengers.  We need good amount of water for hybrid engines to be effective. The only input to produce water is human waste. More the availability of human waste more will be the water. The collective efforts of the passengers will determine the efficiency of hybrid engines.

Keeping in mind the digestive limitations of passengers, outside people should be encouraged to ‘contribute’ towards increasing the engine efficiency whenever train halts at station or signals. Vasu has formulated an equation to correlate the amount of human waste with engine efficiency. He calls this formula as Engine Waste Efficiency Equation [EWEE] Keeping in mind the water storage problem in trains, it will be ideal to generate steam in real time. To achieve this passengers will have to follow a systematic plan to attend nature’s call.

Vasu has also developed systematic plans to attend nature’s call for all trains keeping in mind the travel time and the number of passengers. Vasu is confident that if his ‘nature’s call plan’ [NCP] is strictly followed the hybrid engine can attain up to 80% efficiency. IRCTC can give passengers a choice to select nature’s call preference in a manner similar to the berth preference.

Vasu has attached EWEE and NCP of Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express as samples, with his email.