New Delhi: In 2004, Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Minister of Railways, had introduced “kulhads” (earthen cup) to boost the dying pottery industry and give passengers a taste of traditional yet eco-friendly vessels. But, over the years, plastic cutlery made its way into the industry, replacing disposable kulhads. Plastic not only hampered the pottery industry but also led to humongous amount of waste generation. To be precise, plastic makes up for 10 per cent of all of the waste generated in the world. To stop the use of hazardous plastic, Indian Railways has decided to bring back ‘kulhads’ (earthen cup) to replace plastic and paper cups.
घरेलू उद्योग को सहारा, रेल यात्री को सुविधा: ट्रेन में यात्रियों को चाय, लस्सी, व अन्य भोज्य पदार्थ परोसने के लिए मिट्टी से बने कुल्हड़, गिलास, और प्यालों का उपयोग किया जाएगा, इससे पर्यावरण सुरक्षा के साथ देश के घरेलू कारीगरों को भी लाभ पहुंचेगा pic.twitter.com/FtqU19EHvS
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) January 20, 2019
Also Read: To Fight Plastic Pollution, Indian Railways Plans To Install Plastic Bottle Crushing Machines At 2,000 Stations
According to the details shared by Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, in the first phase, caterers at Varanasi and Rae Bareli stations have been instructed to use terracotta-made ‘kulhads’, glasses and plates to serve the travellers and ditch the use of plastic cutlery.
The three major reasons behind introducing terracotta-made ‘kulhads’ are, to provide convenience to travellers, create a huge market for local potters and ease the burden of plastic waste on the environment.
Zonal railways and the IRCTC are advised to take necessary action to ensure the use of locally produced, environmentally savvy terracotta products like ‘kulhads’, glasses and plates for serving items to passengers through all static units at Varanasi and Rae Bareli railway stations with immediate effect so that local terracotta product manufacturers could easily market their products, the circular issued by the board to the chief commercial managers of Northern Railway and the North Eastern Railway stated.
The use of earthen tableware in trains was proposed by the chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in December 2018.
We have been giving potters electric wheels which have increased their productivity from making 100 cups to around 600 cups a day. It was important to give them a market to sell their wares and generate income. With the railways agreeing to our proposal, lakhs of potters have now got a readymade market, KVIC Chairman V K Saxena told PTI.
Advantages Of Using Kulhads Over Plastic Tableware
Kulhads also known as clay cups are biodegradable, unlike plastic, hence can be thrown or broken after use. Kulhads are known to give an earthy essence, flavour, and fragrance to the delicacy being served in them. They are cheaper than plastic or glass containers. They cannot be re-used, so you don’t have to worry about the germs and bacteria lingering around. They are inherently hygienic, considering they are made by firing kiln, a type of oven having a certain temperature that is used to harden or dry clay objects.
Also Read: To Celebrate 150th Gandhi Jayanti On October 2, Indian Railways To Display Swachh Bharat Logo, Flag On Coaches
Green Initiatives By Swachh Railways
This is not the first time Indian Railways has taken a step to curb the use of plastic cutlery and tableware. Last year in May, railways decided to replace plastic/polymer plates with the eco-friendly disposable plates made of bagasse.
To monitor cleanliness of trains and ensure efficiency of the work done by the onboard housekeeping staff, railways adopted WhatsApp as its tool. From pantry departments to bedrolls, toilet cleaning staff and coach cleanliness staff, various WhatsApp groups for different departments were introduced. The onboard housekeeping staff is meant to upload the photographs along with the details of the work done by them in their shift timings.
Also Read: Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat: Indian Railways Introduces ‘Train Captains’ Who Will Solve Any ‘Cleanliness’ Related Woes On-Board
Indian railways also introduced bio-toilets, and modernised its toilets with auto janitor system to automatically clean and deodrise toilets, create green corridors, which ensures zero toilet discharge on rail tracks. Next it introduced disposable, eco-friendly hand towels and pillow covers made of biodegradable cotton.
With all these initiatives, Indian Railways has been steadily working towards its Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat mission.
Also Read: Indian Railways Takes Another Step Towards Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat, Will Provide Disposable Eco-friendly Towels, Pillow-Covers In Rajdhani Express
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.