IITian’s Gift to Women at Chennai Central Station Is a Big Win for Menstrual Hygiene


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New electronic sanitary napkin vending machines and an incinerator to dispose of used napkins have been installed at Chennai Central railway station for the convenience of women travellers.

There have been sporadic instances across the the country of sanitary napkin vending machines being installed in schools and some public places for the convenience of women. However, disposing of used sanitary napkins in public places that don’t have proper provisions for their removal (for instance, in trains) still poses a problem in many places. As a result, toilets often get clogged because many women try to flush used napkins down the drain.

An IIT Madras alumnus, V Ramachandran, has come up with a novel solution to tackle this problem by developing a sanitary pad incinerator that can burn used pads, turning them to ashes in minutes. The waste can then be used as manure for plants or flushed out.

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Ramachandran’s invention has been installed in Chennai Central railway station by  Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), an Indian Railways body that does engineering work, along with electronic sanitary pad vending machines.

Speaking with Times of India, Ramachandran, an electronic engineer, said: “The incinerator emits marginal fumes. It has an electrical heating system to burn the pads, after the removal of outer plastic layer. The ash can either be used as a manure or be flushed out. Women passengers can collect a plastic bag to dispose used pads and hand it over to staff. We have installed two vending machines at the station, one with a capacity of storing 120 pads and the other with 20.”

The sanitary pad vending machines have been set up alongside token and coin vending machines, and information boards have been put up to let passengers know of their availability.

It is hoped that this entire effort will also help break down taboos associated with speaking about menstrual health and hygiene and raise awareness about the same.

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