No, the Modi-led government did not first introduce bio-toilet systems in Indian Railways in 2014

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
April 17 2023

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No, the Modi-led government did not first introduce bio-toilet systems in Indian Railways in 2014


The Verdict False

Indian Railways first introduced bio-toilets in 2010 under the Congress-led UPA regime. The first bio-toilet was installed on an Indian train in 2011.

Claim ID 9ed62894


Several social media posts with pictures of a bio-toilet on an Indian Railways train claim that while toilets were introduced in the railways during the 20th century, the implementation of bio-toilet systems did not occur until Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Many far-right groups extensively shared similar posts containing the same images and text.

With at least nine states scheduled to hold elections and elect a new government for the next five years, such social media posts are being widely circulated. These posts often contain misinformation and false claims, attempting to influence voters' opinions and decisions in favor of one party. 

In Fact

Introducing bio-toilets in Indian railways has significantly enhanced hygiene, sanitation, and environmental protection. However, this implementation has been a gradual process that has taken several years under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments.

In November 2009, the Railway Board established a ''Core Group'' to decide on suitable eco-friendly toilets, states a report published by the Comptroller Audit General of India (CAG). In January 2010, the core group suggested the adoption of bio-toilets. Following the suggestion, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Railway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in March 2010. The purpose of the MOU was to facilitate collaboration on technology development for the Indian Railway toilet system using the "DRDE Bio-digester" and establish a joint working group. The "bio-digester” is a technology that disposes of human waste in "an eco-friendly manner." The primary objective of the joint working group was to facilitate and complete the technology development as per the MOU's provisions.

The Indian Railways initially tested various bio-toilets that DRDO and Indian Railway jointly designed. On a trial basis, 43 bio-toilets of three different variants were installed on 23 coaches of the Gwalior-Varanasi Bundelkhand Express in January 2011. Following the tests and trials of these bio-toilets, the working group recommended widespread implementation of two variants on six rakes with various types of coaches during their meetings in April and August of 2011. The installation of bio-toilets in these rakes was carried out between February and April of 2012.

Further, in the 2012-13 budget, the then-government announced that 2,500 coaches would be equipped with bio-toilets as part of green measures. As of June 30, 2014, Indian Railways had installed 11,777 bio-toilets in 4,356 passenger coaches. However, the Modi government was only formed in May 2014, making it impossible for them to have installed all 11,777 bio-toilets.

According to data cited by the then Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal in 2018, between 2013-14, 8,024 bio-toilets were installed in train coaches. Since 2014, there had been an increase in the implementation of bio-toilets in railway coaches, his data showed. Approximately 2.5 lakh bio-toilets have been installed in Indian Railway coaches as of March 25, 2022, meeting the daily needs of more than 100 lakh passengers, according to a Lok Sabha response.

Therefore, the claim that the current government under Modi was the first to introduce bio-toilets in trains is false. The Congress-led UPA regime implemented bio-toilets in trains between 2009 and 2014. The NDA government led by BJP has continued the installation of bio-toilets since taking office.

The Verdict 

Bio-toilets were initially introduced by the Congress-led UPA government. The BJP-led NDA government has continued to further its installation since coming to power in 2014. Therefore, we conclude that the Modi-led government did not first introduce bio-toilet systems in Indian railways in 2014.

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