The report, ‘Induction of bio-toilets in passenger coaches in Indian Railways’, was made after auditing 32 coach depots managing 613 trains. The complaints were received from 453 trains having 25,080 bio-toilets while 160 trains did not have bio-toilets.
Even as 50% of funds allocated for retro fitment of bio-toilets in coaches remained underutilised during financial year 2016-17, around 200,000 complaints relating to choking, foul-smelling and non-functional bio-toilets were received during the year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in a report on Tuesday. Also, while during 2014-15 the underutilisation level was as high as 66% it was much better during 2015-16 at around 30%. Eastern Railways was the only zone to have fully utilised allocated funds in all the three years. The report, ‘Induction of bio-toilets in passenger coaches in Indian Railways’, was made after auditing 32 coach depots managing 613 trains. The complaints were received from 453 trains having 25,080 bio-toilets while 160 trains did not have bio-toilets. The report found that non-availability and non-procurement of bio-tanks and other accessories required for fitment or retro-fitment was the primary reason for funds being underutilised. While choking, with 102,792 complaints, topped the list, the ministry of railways told CAG that this was mainly due to misuse by passengers who threw waste materials in the toilet. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said the transporter plans to put dustbins in bio-toilet cabins.
However, steel dustbins are prone to theft. “All-out efforts are being made to fit anti-pilferage devices to minimise cases of theft. Regular passenger awareness drives were being conducted to sensitise passengers,” the railway ministry told CAG. Goyal also said that the railways is also experimenting with bio-vacuum toilets that are be odour free, use less water and are less prone to getting blocked. In its recommendations, CAG said the design of the bio-toilets should be standardised, and the issue of quality and quantity of supply by private firms should be looked at urgently, apart from augmenting in-house production capacity. The auditor also recommended that since there is a shortfall of staff who can handle bio-toilets, the transporter should train more people who can maintain and carry out upkeep of bio-toilets fitted in coaches, and also more bacteria — used to reduce solid human waste to bio-gas and water —generation facilities should be installed or older ones should be augmented.