Pune: The National Green Tribunal (West Zone) has directed the environment directorate of the railway ministry to file a reply on the issue of direct discharge through toilets on the Indian Railways system which leads to massive pollution, an activist said on Tuesday.
"The NGT has taken serious cognizance of our environment interest litigation (EIL) which points out how nearly 4,000 tonnes of human waste is dumped daily through the 'open discharge system' used on Indian Railways," said lawyer Asim Sarode.
The NGT recently asked the railway ministry to file its reply and remain present before the tribunal on Octpber 1, in the EIL filed through NGO Sahyog Trust's socio-legal analyst Rama Sarode and her team comprising Mukta Sathe, Tushar Wayal, Sanjay Jadhav and Shreyas Atre.
The petition demanded that the existing toilet systems must be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives like bio-toilets.
The EIL said pollution was not limited only to railway tracks, but surroundings like water bodies, rivers, atmosphere when faecal matter discharged causes severe pollution and health hazards.
"In fact, the toilets in the Indian Railway systems have become the biggest mobile source of environmental pollution with this daily hazard dumped all over the country where thousands of trains ply," Sarode said.
Citing a CAG report, Sarode said that despite two decades of conducting trials with different models of 'green toilets', the Indian Railways have failed to finalise the suitable technology and implement it, though the deadline was 2007.
Even the installation of bio-toilets, which converts excreta into neutral water using a form of bacteria has been dissatisfactory with only 10 percent work completed so far, he added.
Besides stopping the present form of direct discharge, the EIL urged the railway ministry to appoint only those coach manufacturers who can incorporate eco-friendly toilets into the coach design, and cover all water bodies on which railway tracks pass to prevent the discharge of human waste into the fresh water below.