Railways’ use of bio-toilets: Lessons in innovation, sustainability to be included in B-school curriculum

The railways’ use of bio-toilets in its coaches will now be included in management school classrooms as a case study on its development and installation has been approved by the national transporter to be used as study material, according to a document accessed by PTI. The document further states, the railways have given its approval to Indian School of Business (ISB) to use the study by them on the IR bio-toilets as curriculum for business schools.

The study, which will be part of business school curriculum, mentions how in 2011 the first prototype train with bio-toilets started from Gwalior and how the project was scaled up by 2014. In less than ten years (between 2011 and 2020), 245,775 bio-toilets were installed in 68,694 coaches. Officials involved in the process confirmed that the use of bio-toilets, the technology developed with DRDO and the association with private entities to install them in the coaches of IR was an achievement, accomplished over a decade was ready material for management schools to learn about coordination between different departments and also a lesson in sustainability. Also this change resulted in reducing rampant wastage of water, eliminating manual scavenging and saving energy.


“There are two major takeaways from the bio-toilet project. One is that it’s environment- friendly and their installation has resulted in cleaner stations. The second is that due to the use of bio-toilets, the corrosion in rails has reduced and will eventually lead to extending the life of the rails. We have signed an MOU with ISB and based on that they can also take it to other management schools,” said a senior official. This model was particularly important for management schools as it departed lessons in both development of sustainable technology and how the national transporter has managed to go big with the concept.

“The bio-toilets initiative served as a source of open innovation. It significantly expanded the markets to produce and sell bio-toilets to improve small and medium enterprises segment. The successful implementation of bio-toilets in the passenger trains demonstrated a critical message that while technical innovation is essential, its solution must be grounded in reality. That capability to carry out innovations in an evolutionary mode is -necessary to bring a change al the grass-root level. To make a fundamental social impact, considering the socio-economic factors becomes essential,” the study says.