The Indian Railways widely referred to as the national transporter has tasks much beyond merely carrying passengers. Spread across the length and breadth of the country with daily footfalls tipping eight figures, it encounters problems and situations that need novel solutions.
News18 has compiled three top solutions that Indian Railways came up with to counter unique problems:
So much for Gutkha
It is estimated that the Indian Railways spends around Rs 1,200 crore and a lot of water annually to clean the stains and marks caused by spitting on its premises, especially by pan and tobacco users.
As public spitting remains a major nuisance despite more stringent provisions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a pocket-sized reusable and biodegradable spittoon, with seeds that will grow into plants when it is disposed of, is the latest green innovation being pushed by the Railways to tackle the menace.
To discourage passengers from spitting on railway premises, vending machines or kiosks are being set up at 42 stations to provide the spittoon pouch for as little as Rs 5 to Rs 10.
Three railway zones Western, Northern and Central- have awarded contracts to a startup, EzySpit, for this.
Buzzing Bees to Scare Elephants
In an article, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal wrote, “One morning, the Prime Minister gave me a very unique suggestion. He heard that elephants are scared of honey bees and tend to run away at the sound of bees. He asked me to see if this could be used to reduce the accidents of elephants on rail tracks. ‘Plan Bee’ was initiated to use honey bee sound to divert the elephants away from the tracks. Due to this plan, elephant accidents have been reduced significantly and from 2017 until May 2021, more than 950 elephants have been saved."
In November, 2017, the Indian Railways launched this plan to prevent speeding trains from hitting elephants crossing tracks in the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR).
Ending manual scavenging on tracks
A self-propelled railway track scavenging vehicle is set to replace manual scavenging on railway tracks soon, the Ministry of Science and Technology said on April 5, 2021.
According to a statement, Dr. Sharad K. Pradhan, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), Bhopal, has developed a Multifunctional Railway Track Scavenging Vehicle.
This vehicle is equipped with dry and wet suction systems, air and water spraying nozzles, control system, and road cum rail attachment that will only require one other person along with a driver to carry out automatic cleaning of railway tracks.
Describing the manual scavenging process, it explained that once the garbage is picked up from the tracks, night soil, excessive dirt, oil, and other foreign materials are ineffectively cleaned with high-pressure water jets.