Do you understand that the Indian Railway is the second largest network in Asia? It connects the entire country, uses of railway for goods and people transportation. On any given day 12600+ trains were running on Indian railway tracks. In those trains more than 23 million people travel across the country. Unfortunately that such a huge establishment does not have an any policy for clean the environment. One of the biggest worries is the amount of solid waste (mainly paper and plastic) generated each day by train passengers across the country. As of now, there is no comprehensive system to collect and manage this enormous amount of waste. Amount of waste A random survey of four express trains was conducted at the Surat railway station in Gujarat to get an idea of the amount of solid waste generated per train per day. Managers of the pantry car were asked about the number of meals, coffee/tea cups, meal containers and mineral water bottles they sell (see table: Pantry car disposables). It was assumed that after consumption of food, the meal containers, coffee/tea cups and mineral water bottles would be thrown away as waste. Thus by counting the number of items sold per day the amount of waste generated was calculated. Assuming that these disposable items are thrown out of the train after consumption (the only option passengers have!), we found that each train generates 1,100 paper plates and containers, 1,750 paper cups and 800 plastic items (pouches and bottles) per day. These figures would assume alarming proportions when disposable items sold by other vendors as also the total number of trains plying per day in the country are considered. According to times of India the Indian Railways, through its 9116 trains and1.6 crore passengers, generates approximately 300,000 litres (60,000 gallons) of human waste from the ‘open-discharge’ toilets and 8960 tonnes of solid waste across its terminal buildings all over the nation. The recommendation is made in one of the student’s draft reports – Solid Waste Management in Indian Railways. By giving the example of generation of the solid waste in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express, Shah said that approximately 10 million units of waste is generated from 213 Rajdhani trains a week, in addition to 5 million units from 158 Shatabdi trains in the same time period 228 million units of waste is generated from other long distance trains. It further states that organic waste generated from the Rajdhani trains in a week is 91 tonne and 32 tonne from the Shatabdi trains.
Being a good Human who travels quite often in trains, and being a nature-lover, many times I had to sadly watch the passengers throw away wastes like plastic bottles, carry bags, wrappers, disposable cups and plates through the windows of the moving trains. You would have noticed for sure, how polluted the surroundings of railway lines are, especially water bodies nearby. When we think more about it, the blame cannot be entirely imposed on the passengers; they have only an alternate option, which is to save these wastes until they find a dust bin in the next station. It is not a very practical solution and hardly anyone cares or bothers to do so. Well, I try convincing my friends how our little action adversely affects the Nature. When I keep the coffee cups and wrappers with me to dispose them in the next waste bin I find, many friends and relatives tease me by saying I’m a “DUST BIN”! See how even small actions to protect our Mother Nature are discouraged knowingly or unknowingly…!

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