New Delhi: Ministry of Railways will be setting up a 1000 Mega Watt (MW) solar power plant by 2020-21, said Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Ministry of Railways. In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, the Railway Minister for State stated that special attention is being given to make Indian Railways go green by increasing the use of cleaner fuels. Mr. Gohain said that railways have already installed about 71.19 MW of solar plants over rooftops at railway stations and service buildings.
The 1000 MV solar power plant is expected to source about 10 per cent of Railways’ electrical needs which are majorly of two types- traction (to run different types of locomotives on the track) and non-traction (for railway’s manufacturing units, workshops, residences, stations and platforms).
The Railway Ministry has been giving a push to enhance its initiative to go green. In 2016, it decided to allocate one per cent cost in all sanctioned works for execution of environment-related works.
In a bid to reduce its carbon footprints, Railways launched India’s first solar-powered train in July 2017. After this, uptill now, solar panels have been fitted on rooftops of 42 coaches – 19 Narrow Gauge coaches on trains in Shimla and Kangra Valley, 13 coaches in two trains of Northern railways, seven coaches in one train of Southern Railway, two coaches in one train of Konkan Railway and one coach in one train of West Central Railway, as per the data provided by the Railway Ministry. It will be installing solar panels on the rooftops of more trains soon. The Ministry has also introduced solar energy based DEMUs (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit).
As per the ministry’s estimates, a solar-powered train with six trailer-coaches has the potential to save about 21,000 litres of diesel and thereby effect a cost saving of Rs. 12 lakh every year.
The Solar systems used by the Railways, work during sunlight and generate battery backup of approximately four to five hours. However, the system does not work properly during rain and winter season and battery backup goes down to two to three hours depending upon the weather condition.
Mr. Gohain asserted that along with solar energy, Indian Railways is also exploring the use of other non-conventional sources like wind energy to decrease Railway’s dependence on fossil fuels. The Ministry informed that wind energy plants of 36.5 MW have been installed out of which, 26 MW at Jaisalmerwere installed in 2015-2016.
Apart from increasing the use of cleaner fuels, the Railways has been conducting extensive tree plantations at trackside boundaries. It planted 1.25 crores saplings in 2016-17, 88.96 lakh in 2017-18 and 97.33 lakh trees during 2018 up to November, informed the ministry.
The Ministry has been installing environment-friendly bio-toilets in passenger coaches and has installed 1.63 lakh bio-toilets in around 44,500 coaches.
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.