Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8 and 9

May 2, 2018

Ideas for Indian Railways

In my earlier write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up I have proposed an Elevator System with helical rails, a Number Lock  with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the third in the series, I am giving my innovative ideas for the improvement of passenger convenience in our vast Railways network in India. I hope to send this to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel.

6.0 Railway Reservation

In India, Railways is one of the most preferred and popular mode of travel between cities and towns. Since it is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport, the Indian Government is rightly giving high importance to this and offering a lot of incentives to promote its use. For the last few years I am observing a very disturbing trend which results in considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. The amount of last-day-cancellations is on the increase. For example, last December I was travelling from Bengaluru to Chennai by morning Shatabdi express. I was wait-listed and my reservation was confirmed only late on the previous day of my travel. When I came to the train, I found our carriage was almost 2/3rd empty. I thought it may get filled up at the next Bengaluru Cantonment Station. But it still remained half-empty. When I enquired with a co-passenger, he said this is the normal occupancy or slightly less on the particular day. It is apparently due to multiple bookings or safety bookings, mainly by software engineers travelling very frequently between Chennai and Bengaluru. They book multiple tickets 3 months in advance by default, and as the travel day approaches they review their need to travel and cancel the trip with minimum loss. Since the seats become vacant in the last moments, there are no takers, who are ready to travel at such short notice. This happens almost in all express trains between cities causing, as told earlier, considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. There is very simple solution as suggested below:

Booking Window:

  • Open only 30% of seats for reservation 3 months or 90 days, in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quota) for reservation 60 days in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quotas) for reservation 30 days in advance of travel date
  • Last 10% will be the Tatkal quota to be opened only 3 days in advance of travel date

You may compare this with the present practice of opening all the 90% at one stroke 90 days in advance. On very popular and crowded routes the 90% quota will be exhausted in the first 2 or 3 days. Any genuine traveler, who plans his journey, even 8o days in advance, will have to wait for 77 days before going for Tatkal booking. This will force him to think of other modes of transport.

Cancelling Window:

  • Anyone who cancels his reservation within 30 days of his booking, or 30 days in advance of his travel date, whichever is earlier, will get 100% refund including reservation charges. Only a nominal service charge of Rs 10 or so could be billed to him.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 29 days and 15 days in advance of his travel date will get 100% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 14 days and 5 days in advance of his travel date will get 75% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 4 days and 3 hours in advance of his travel date/time will get 50% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 3 hours in advance of his travel date or a few minutes after departure of train, will get only 25% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Any cancellation later than the above windows will get refunds at the discretion of Railway Superintendent of the respective stations.
  • After such cancellations as above, the vacated bookings should be allotted to the next passengers in the waiting list immediately at every stage, so that they have adequate time to prepare for their travel.

You may again compare this with present practice. Now even if somebody knows well enough that he will not be travelling on the booked date, he waits upto72 hours before departure of the train before cancelling the tickets. Resale of this ticket in such a short notice will not happen and eventually Railway loses a customer. With computerized booking, such intelligent choices are very easy and efficient to implement.

Hope Indian Railways considers my suggestion as above.

7.0 Bridging Platforms:

In Indian Railways, recently they have realized the tremendous advantages of double discharge platforms on either side of the train. Such double discharge platforms are being implemented in all major railway stations and terminuses. The idea of double discharge platforms relieves the passengers with the stress of deciding which side, to be ready with the luggage, to disembark from the train. Another stress for the travelling public is to crossover to the exit of the stations, or to another platform for catching a connecting train, using over bridges or under passes. With several luggages and along with family and kids it is always stressful. Here is my idea to improve this situation:

  • Provide retractable bridges between the platforms over the railway lines at three places across the length of the platform – at both ends and in the middle.
  • The bridges can be retracted as the train arrives at (or runs through) the particular track with required safety features like interlocked signaling, bells, lamps and whistles.
  • This may not be practicable in very busy stations with frequent arrival of trains. In such stations escalators and elevators are a must.

This will greatly avoid the risk of fatalities occurring during illegal line-crossing which happens too frequently in India.

8.0 Train Toilet – 1

There are many problems with toilets in train: Cleanliness, Wetness, convenience, washing facilities, safety grips etc. In addition when the trains are halted in a station, yard or on a loop-line, use of toilets makes the station more dirty, unhealthy and unsightly. Of course there is a notice of request to the passengers not to use the toilets when the train is halted at stations. But the rule is rarely adhered to. Here is a solution at least for the last mentioned problem.

  • Toilets should be prevented from usage when the train is not moving,
  • To do this we may use an intelligent movement sensor to be interlocked with the toilet latch
  • When the train slows down to a very low speed, preparatory to halting, the movement sensor will lock the latch to prevent opening from outside. Anyone using the toilet will be able to open the latch from inside to let himself out. But as he closes the door, the latch will again get interlocked with the movement sensor.
  • As the train picks up speed, the latch will get decoupled from the interlock and get released for opening from outside.
  • The maintenance staff can be provided with a special key to open the toilet even when interlocked, for cleaning and maintenance.

9.0 Train Toilet – 2

All 2-Tier, 3–Tier and Chair-car carriages have totally 4 toilets, 2 each at the respective two ends. It may be better to convert 2 of them (one each from either end, into one male and one female urinal). Urinals are more frequently used, easier to clean and require less space, by accommodating both urinals in the space of one toilet. It will make it easier to keep the toilets clean.

However one major problem is with the solid refuse of the toilets. In most of the trains these toilets discharge waste through an opening, onto the track area itself. This corrodes the track fittings and risks the hygiene of track workers and inspectors. Here is my solution to this problem:

  • It could be better to compact the solid refuse in the under carriage of the train itself.
  • These compacted solid refuse stored in exchangeable drums can be replaced as a part of train cleaning and maintenance process at the terminal stations, or even in a designated cleaning stopovers en-route.
  • These drums of solid refuse can be used as bio-fuel and fertilizer for various applications
  • For safety of conservancy workers, we may automate the process suitably, (eg) auto-sealing of the waste drums as they remove them, integrated cleaning sprays for the toilet discharge area etc.

I Hope these ideas get considered seriously enough. They may be suitably engineered to increase the passenger convenience and safety many fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Toilets for Multitude

October 24, 2017

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

L V Nagarajan

On 2nd Oct 2017, Gandhi Jayanthi (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), I saw the Hindi Movie ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’. It is about ‘Open Defecation’ prevalent in India and about the public and private efforts to eradicate the same. While the movie is mainly telling the story form ladies’ point of view – about their privacy, hygiene and safety, the social aspects are also discussed.

This movie reminded me about an incident and the subsequent interaction I had when I was a 10-year old boy in my village, Sholavandan, near Madurai (India). It was summer vacation time for the schools when several of my cousins visit us and spend the vacations with us. One of my city cousins (no name please) visiting us, elder to me by 5 years, called me one morning to accompany him for a walk. I went along happily with him. We went along the railway line a distance of about 500 meters near a small canal and a bridge. I understood his purpose when he asked me to take care of his wrist watch and purse. After he finished ‘it’ and when we were walking back home. I asked him ‘Why here? We have a toilet at home’. The answer he gave me opened my eyes of conscience. He said, ‘Rajoo, the toilet in our house is an open type dry lavatory which is not very hygienic. Also, I don’t like manual scavenging’.

Yes. Here is a problem. Why many of us want others to clean our toilets, even the modern sanitary ones? Why public toilets are so unclean? Even now don’t we avoid using a public toilet unless it is an emergency? Whenever we stay in a hotel, first thing we inspect are the toilets, whether they are clean and hygienic. Don’t we?

The multitude of people in India cannot afford space for their own toilets. Hence the need arises for common toilets and public toilets. People who do not want to clean their own toilets, how will they ever keep common and public toilets clean? In addition, will these common facilities like flush-out and water closet be kept well maintained, in working condition? This is the area where we have to impart training to our people on basic hygiene and co-operation in handling such common facilities.

Even sanitary toilets require two septic tanks which should be alternately emptied and cleaned at least once in five years. How often have you seen it done? (almost never). Eventually, it gets choked up and blocked and soon becomes unusable and becomes a major health hazard. These are all special problems of a densely populated country like ours.

As shown in the above movie, at least for the male population in many thousands of villages in India, ‘Field Defecation’ seems to be a very practical solution. We may perhaps think of finding ways and means of making this practice, private and hygienic. In my school days there used to be a class known as ‘Citizenship Training’. In one of those books, I remember to have seen a design of a mobile toilet perfectly suited for our population. It was somewhat similar to what is given in the following link. http://akvopedia.org/wiki/Dry_Toilet.

It consists of a pit over which a pedestal or a squatting slab is provided. A pile of sand or saw dust or dry earth nearby can be used to pour into the pit after every use. A second pit may be used over which the whole facility as above will be moved to enable hygienic emptying and cleaning of the first pit. A batch of such toilets can be made mobile and moved over different pits, specially prepared in the fields away from the village. Similar common toilets (or home toilets), within the village precincts, may be used by seniors, ladies and children. They can also be used by others, during unfair weather conditions and during nightly periods. This precludes the need for mechanised scavenging for periodically cleaning the pits. There are many designs available for producing bio-fuel just as gobar-gas plants. Such initiatives, of using appropriate technologies, must be encouraged to be undertaken by municipalities and gram panchayats, instead of forcing down a uniform policy and design by state and central governments.

Jai Ho to Swacch Bharat

 Victory to Clean India

_________________________________________________________

 

Swatch Bharath Abhyan

October 1, 2015

Swatch Bharath Abhyan

(Clean India Campaign)

It is just one year since the above campaign was launched by our Prime Minister Shri Modi. Many reviews of ‘progress-so-far’ have appeared in print, visual, electronic and social media. Ignoring the politically biased views, generally there is a concern that the campaign has not achieved the desired result so far. Mr. Modi has perhaps anticipated such apathy to the campaign and hence has given himself and the government 5 full years up to 2019 to achieve reasonable cleanliness. Still it is a good idea to review the ‘progress-so-far’ and take some positive actions to improve the progress based on our experience till now.

What makes the public places and surroundings unclean? There are about 10 types of wastes generated by individuals, families and institutions. They are:

Kitchen/Garden waste

Personal and Health care waste

Stationery waste

Plastic waste

Packing waste

Party/event waste

Industrial waste

Construction waste

Electrical/Electronic waste

Metal waste

General public need a lot of guidance and facilities to dispose of these wastes appropriately. I am attempting here to give my own ideas on how to dispose of Plastic Wastes in an environmentally friendly way.

  1. Single plastic bags should never be disposed of on their own. It is more likely to fly off anywhere and block any drain or air passage and block water seepage to the ground and below.
  2. Any thin plastic bag should be disposed off tying its ends together in to a bundle so that it cannot balloon and fly off.
  3. At home a number of such tied up thin plastic bags should all be gathered together in to a larger plastic bag/bundle and disposed of separately. This will enable and encourage the trash pickers to collect them and deposit them for recycling.
  4. Thicker plastic bags should be reused as much as possible. There should be municipal collection facilities where we can deposit them, after packing them neatly.
  5. Waste plastic sheets (thin and thick) should be treated the same was as bags.
  6. Plastic bottles should also be deposited in municipal collection facilities as above.
  7. Disused plastic containers and other thicker materials like boxes, mugs, buckets, furniture and fittings should all be gathered together and handed over to trash dealers personally.
  8. Housing societies and apartment complexes should have a dry waste collection day, once in a month (say, last Saturday of the month). On this day all the residents should deposit their plastic waste material collected as above in to a common bin provided for this purpose. The trash dealers may be requested to collect the same at the end of the day.
  9. Municipal ward offices should announce one day in a month (say, last Sunday of the month) as dry waste collection day and a truck should go around the ward collecting such wastes.
  10. The slums and low cost housing areas should be more actively involved in this Clean India Campaign, for it to succeed.

Such methods of waste disposal as above should be evolved for all types of wastes. They should be publicized periodically in all media, especially the vernacular ones.

Let us all have a Clean India and a Green India. Vande Mataram.

Idea for a new Eco-Toilet

October 16, 2014

Recently I saw a news item in Times of India (12th Oct 2014) about saving water by peeing in the shower. When I googled it there were many who were supporting this idea for conservation of water. Hence I am encouraged to publish as a blog, my earlier idea of 2010, for an Eco-Toilet.

New Design for an Eco-toilet

 The goal is to conserve the use of water in a flush-out toilet commode.

The idea is to revise the design of flush out toilets. Millions of people use flush-out toilets (Indian or Western Type). While the amount of water required to flush the solid waste is very high, we do not need the same amount of water for urinating purpose. Though a few designs were made earlier to provide two flush systems in the toilet for major and minor uses, these designs were neither popular nor very successful. The amount of water wasted is enormous as minor uses are about ten times more than the major uses in a day. Hence this suggestion is for the following rough design of a new eco-toilet.

Ecotoilet

The pot can be divided into two compartments 1 and 2. The outlets of pot-1 can directly drain into the main drain through a separate smaller s-bend and then to the septic tank. The pot-2 can flush out the solid waste through the normal siphon system. This way pot-1 needs much less water as in any normal urinal. Even a mug of water will do the job. A dual flush system could be an added facility. Both the smaller and bigger s-bends are integrated in the same ceramic mold and will hold water in the bend to seal off septic tank from the toilet

Implementation: This idea can be implemented by all the people who have access to toilets with septic tanks. The sanitary engineers should study this suggestion seriously and come out with more practical and feasible designs. All the commode manufacturers should readily come forward with their own implementation of the design to suit various customer segments. The manufacturers, suppliers and distributors should give hefty volume discounts for mass implementation of this design in all apartment blocks in urban areas. The government may also subsidize the cost for poorer sections of the society, who have common toilets. The removed older commodes may be re-used in public toilets where separate urinals are provided in addition to commodes.

Partners: The commode manufacturers, builders, civil contactors, housing societies, municipality health inspectors, plumbers and masons should all be involved in evolving a suitable design, implementation and practice.

All the new apartment blocks, including those under construction can be asked to implement this design as a precondition to issue of occupation clearance certificate. Apartment blocks in the urban area may be asked to implement the design in a phased manner, say in about three years.

The cost of manufacture of this kind of toilets will only be marginally higher than the normal ones. Depending on the aesthetics of the design to suit different markets, the actual costs may vary. Because of a very large initial demand the cost per unit will come down drastically. With exchange offers and deserving subsidies, the cost may not pose a big problem.

Outcome of this modification: This design of toilet will save a lot of water for our future generations at the same time keeping our toilets adequately clean and hygienic.

Name: L V Nagarajan

City:    Mumbai

Email:  lvnaga@yahoo.com

Phone: 022- 25259073

LVN/5th May 2010

The River – நதி

June 23, 2013

                         நதி

தாயின்று எழுந்து நீராவியாய், பின்

வான்நின்று பொழியும் நல்மேகமாய்,

பூநின்று செல்லும் நீரோட்டமாய், நதி

தாயொன்றி மகிழும் கடல் கூடியே. –  1

தான்நின்று பல்லோர்க்கும் அமுதாகி, நதி

தாள்சென்று அடையாது நஞ்சுற்றே

உயிர்குன்றி ஒசிந்து உணர்வற்று, தன்

உடல்குன்றி வீழ்ந்து ஓய்ந்ததுவே. –  2

ஆஒற்றிக் கரந்த பால் எனினும்

அதன்கன்றிர்க்கும் ஓரளவு ஈவது போல்

உயர்குன்றில் விழுந்த நதி நீரும், சிறிது

தாய்சென்று அடைவதே தருமம் அன்றோ. –  3

வேரின்றி வளராது விருட்சம், தன்

காலின்றி வாழாது கால்நடைகள்

நீரின்று அமையாது உலகு, எனின்

வானின்று அமையாது ஒழுக்கு. –  4

English Translation

Rising from its source as vapours

Falling from the benevolent clouds

Flowing through earth as streams – rivers

Folding joyously into the laps of seas. – 1

Holding its flow to feed thousands, but

Stalling on its way with filth and toxins

Losing its life, form and feeling – river

Falling a victim to greed and neglect. –  2

Tending the cow and drawing the milk, but

Leaving a bit for its calf to drink – like wise

Allowing the waters to reach its source – river

Ending its flow in a holy communion. –  3

No growth for trees without their roots

No life for animals without their feet

No human race without the waters -never

Any peace sans water resources –  4

(The last two lines are adopted from Tirukkural-Tamil)

I am re-publishing this poem after seeing the man-made disaster in Uttarakhand.

L V Nagarajan – 23 June 2013

Ma Ganga

April 5, 2009

Please see below  a write-up on the condition of our holy Ganga.

 

Ganga River

Extracted From: http://www.gits4u.com/water/ganga.htm


          Today, over 29 cities, 70 towns, and thousands of villages extend along the Ganges’ banks. Nearly all of their sewage – over 1.3 billion liters per day – goes directly into the river, along with thousands of animal carcasses, mainly cattle. Another 260 million liters of industrial waste are added to this by hundreds of factories along the river’s banks.  Municipal sewage constitutes 80 per cent by volume of the total waste dumped into the Ganges, and industries contribute about 15 percent. The majority of the Ganges pollution is organic waste, sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the Ganges have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged. Recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal-coliform counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.


            The sacred practice of depositing human remains in the Ganges also poses health threats because of the unsustainable rate at which partially cremated cadavers are dumped. In Varanasi, some 40,000 cremations are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganges. In addition, the carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year. An inadequate cremation procedure contributes to a large number of partially burnt or unburnt corpses floating down the Ganga.

 
            The industrial pollutants also a major source of contamination in the Ganges. A total of 146 industries are reported to be located along the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. The major polluting industries on the Ganga are the leather industries, especially near Kanpur, which use large amounts of Chromium and other toxic chemical waste, and much of it finds its way into the meagre flow of the Ganga.  From the plains to the sea, pharmaceutical companies, electronics plants, textile and paper industries, tanneries, fertilizer manufacturers and oil refineries discharge effluents into the river. This hazardous waste includes hydrochloric acid, mercury and other heavy metals, bleaches and dyes, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls highly toxic compounds that accumulate in animal and human tissue.

    
            However, industry is not the only source of pollution. Sheer volume of waste – estimated at nearly 1 billion litres per day – of mostly untreated raw sewage – is a significant factor.  Runoff from farms in the Ganges basin adds chemical fertilizers and pesticides such as DDT, which is banned in the United States because of its toxic and carcinogenic effects on humans and wildlife. Damming the river or diverting its water, mainly for irrigation purposes, also adds to the pollution crisis.
 

 

I was very disturbed to read the above report. If this is the condition with Ganga, the holiest of our rivers, what about other rivers?

Please read my poem on rivers by clicking on the link below

rivers

Please read my blog https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2008/08/08/once-there-were-rivers/

L V Nagarajan/ 5th April 2009

Radio-Active Wastes

September 14, 2008

This was a poem published in Thendral (Oct, 2006), a Tamil Magazine published from SFO, Bay Area. The poem itself was written in 1993. Koodankulam Nuclear power station is in an advanced stage of construction. Indian is about to go ahead with major expansion in Nuclear power after the recent agreement with US is implemented. Let us hope, some solution will be found for the disposal of radio-active wastes

koodankulam

Once There Were Rivers

August 8, 2008

Once There Were Rivers.

L V Nagarajan

Rivers are the worst sufferers of human greed. I read somewhere that about 80% of the rivers of the world do not reach the sea at all. They become dry miles before they reach their natural end. River beds are used as illegal sand quarries and later as illegal real estates. What do we do about it? There should be an international law to limit the utilization of river water to, say, 95% and a minimum of 5% of water, as a rule should be discharged into the sea. A norm should be developed for graded utilization of river water all along its route upto the sea, irrespective of political boundaries it passes through. Let us think of our ancient cultures which worshiped rivers, especially its source and its point of collusion with the sea. Let us not pollute the rivers and let us keep their banks and the beds clean and clear. Let us preserve our rivers for our future generations.