New Delhi: The Indian Railways was asked
on Wednesday by the Delhi High Court to install Controlled-Discharge
Toilet System (CDTS) in trains till bio-toilets are fitted to
abolish manual scavenging from the railways.
Observing that the Railways needs to work faster in
installing bio-toilets, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak
Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna also directed it to
rehabilitate people who are to be rendered jobless due to
abolition of manual scavenging.
The bench also asked railway authorities to provide
protective gears to the people engaged in cleaning toilets in
railway coaches with water jets.
It also asked its amicus Arjiv Nanda to travel in a
train having bio-toilets and file a report on its efficacy by
the next date of hearing.
While seeking a detailed affidavit from Railways about
its efforts to abolish manual scavenging, the court pointed
out installation of CDTS could be a way out of the malady of
manual scavenging, pending introduction of bio-toilets in all
43,000 coaches of various trains.
Appearing for Indian Railways, counsel Geetanjali Mohan
told the bench that as per Railway Board`s instructions, a
total of 130 bio-toilets have been fitted in various coaches
and 500 more are to be installed by March 2012.
She also pointed out that at a rate of four toilets per
coach, the railways requires a total of 1,72,000 bio-toilets
and it would take a few years in procuring as many of them for
completion of the project.
Pointing out that the workers did not use hands in
cleaning the tracks, she said "water jets and big bamboo
brooms are being used to clear the tracks of human waste."
The bench was hearing a public interest petition by a
civil society group seeking abolition of manual scavenging
Appearing for the petitioner Safai Karmchari Andolan,
advocate Shomna Khanna submitted that the Railway Board has a
statutory duty to rehabilitate the people who were rendered
jobless due to abolition of manual scavenging in railways.
She also sought the court`s direction for provision of
protective gears for people engaged in cleaning toilets of
various coaches at stations.
The bench sought by September 21 an affidavit from the
Railway Ministry on the issue of their rehabilitation.
Earlier, the bench had expressed anguish over delay in
introducing bio-toilets to abolish manual scavenging in
It had asked the Railway Board to explain why it had
failed to comply with the provisions of the Employment of
Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines