MUMBAI: In a move to implement the plastic ban on the suburban railway stations, both Central and Western Railways will be installing bottle crushing machines. A senior railway official said that they are exploring all the possibilities of implementing a buyback policy for plastic bottles along with bottle crushing machines at major stations.
The Central Railway (CR) official said that they had conducted a meeting with the passenger association last week in which the latter had welcomed the move of installing bottle crushing machines. “From our side, we will provide full cooperation on the ban on plastic products on railway premises as most of the tracks are clogged up due to plastic which is thrown on railway tracks,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad. He added that these machine will also help in disposing of plastic water bottles and all the associations have decided to support the railways in its move.
The official also said the biggest challenge the railways face is that of plastic containers, including bottles, entering Maharashtra from other states. Within Maharashtra, the state government is proposing to have plastic bottles with a buyback price printed on them. According to a senior railway official, they are thinking of extending the buyback policy only for approved manufacturers of the railways and on bottles that print the buyback price. “The details for the same will only be finalised once the State decides on its policy. At present, we are only looking at how to make it operational,” the official said.
The passenger association will also educate commuters not to throw plastic bottles or materials on the railway tracks and also inform railway officials if banned plastic is being used in the premises. “Once the plastic ban is imposed, commuter support is a must. The bottle crushing will be installed at major stations wherein a commuter can give the plastic bottles to the stall owners who will then dispose of the plastic materials,” said a senior CR official.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is also separately discussing ways to frame a buyback plan for water-vending machines, which provide water in plastic cups as well as one-litre bottles. “We will follow the law of the land and take appropriate measures to replace plastic with suitable paper or equivalent bio-degradable options at water-vending machines. Deliberations are on to look into the use of plastic bottles in a suitable manner so as to implement the rule,” said spokesperson of IRCTC western region.
The Railways now plan to tap maximum stations, workshops and car sheds where renewable energy could replace conventional energy.
Both Central (CR) and Western Railway (WR), claim that they have been able to save up to Rs 30 crore annually through conversion to green energy in the past two years. Through solar panels, windmills and LED lights, at least two railway stations have turned to fully green ones.
In a green station, each electrical item —including lights, fans and ticketing machines — run on wind or solar energy. On CR, Asangaon and Mankhurd stations have turned to “complete green stations”. According to the railways, the experiment has helped reduce the electricity bill by at least twice, compared to using conventional energy.
“We try to tap ideal places where solar panels could be set up for generating electricity. In places where wind flow is strong, we target to set up windmills. For solar panels, we aim to place the panels on the grids so that most railway stations can benefit from the green energy,” a senior railway official said.
Outside Mumbai, CR has converted some stations, like Jummapatti, Waterpipe and Aman Lodge between Neral-Matheran section, to green stations. Due to the climate in Mumbai, officials claim, tapping sunlight in most stations is easy.
“We are able to get sunlight for 300 days out of the 365 days in a year. During monsoons or days when it is cloudy, we try to use stored energy in the panels or convert to conventional ones if the concentration of day light is reduced,” a senior official said.
Officials claim that the experiment helped beautify the stations as LED lighting increases illumination at the stations by 40 per cent. In a unique experiment to tap green energy at stations, the WR has installed sunlight tubes/ sun pipes at Mumbai Central station. The tubes, installed in the concourse area, provides natural lighting during the day.
“The polycarbonate (PC) domes fitted in the ceiling collects and concentrates daylight. The tubes are able to cover up to 1,600 square feet of area at the station and allow uniform lighting. It also works effectively during low light, like rain and cloud conditions,” a senior WR official said.
The railways now plan to tap maximum stations, workshops and car sheds where renewable energy could replace conventional energy. “An expected annual saving of 6.83 Million Units and Rs 5. 03 crores has been envisaged due to conversion to LED. In addition to this, WR is also aiming, in the next phase, to provide energy-efficient LED lighting on all EMU coaches by the end of June 2018,” a senior WR official said.
For regular commuters, green energy has helped accentuate the look of the stations. Sharada Joshi, a passenger who commutes from Mumbai Central to Andheri on the WR, said: “The concourse area looks really pretty between 8 and 9 am. It is a brilliant use of engineering to tap solar energy inside stations. But there might be problems in the monsoons.”