From introducing high-speed trains to retro-fitting safer coaches, the Indian Railways has been taking a plethora of steps to revitalize itself and become future-ready. However, this project will remain incomplete until India gets railway stations that are not just high-capacity and well-connected, but also sustainable.
Simply put, a sustainable railway station is one that helps solve environmental challenges, rather than contributing to them. It is a station that’s operationally fit for the future, that is invested in the welfare of its workforce, and that is properly connected to the communities it serves.
The good news is that Secunderabad Railway Station has just become India’s first railway station to bag the coveted ‘Green Railway Station’ tag given by the Indian Green Building Council – Confederation of Industry (IGBC-CII)!
In a ceremony held at Jaipur last week, the station officials of Secunderabad were presented a shield, a plaque and a silver rating certification (valid for three years) by Tai Lee Siang (Chairman) and Terri Wills (CEO) of World Green Building Council.
The IGBC-CII, with the support of Environment Directorate of the Indian Railways, has developed the Green Railway Stations Rating system to facilitate the transformation of existing railway stations into eco-friendly ones that offer an enhanced commuter experience. The six modules considered for evaluation of sustainability are energy efficiency, water efficiency, health, hygiene/sanitation, innovative development ideas and smart/green initiatives.
The second cleanest station in ‘A1’ category stations of India, the Secunderabad Railway Station qualifies on all these counts. Organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides are used to grow nearly 408 different species of plants and trees across the station’s 13-acre premise.
In 2016, a 500 Kwp solar plant was installed at the station. Today, it generates about 2,500 units of power every day, meeting 37% of the station’s energy requirements of the station and savings over 70 lakh rupees annually. Solar photovoltaic cells have also been used to cover about 41% of the station’s exposed roof area.
Secunderabad’s railway station is also 100% LED lit, with over 4000 energy-efficient fixtures. Other green initiatives include installation of bottle crushing machines, a central waste collection system, bio-toilets, rainwater harvesting pits, CO2 sensors in air-conditioned waiting halls and a 5 lakh litres Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
The free Wi-Fi enabled station also has battery-operated cars and escalators for senior citizens, with plans for more public amenities (like more foot overbridges, provisions of washable aprons and interactive security solutions) and a redesign of the station facade already on the cards.
Secunderabad’s railway officials also ensure proper cleaning and upkeep of the station premises, with the Assistant General Manager (AGM) conducting surprise examinations to check cleanliness levels. He also regularly interacts with the station’s safai karamcharis to understand their working conditions and address their grievances.
On occasions, the station officials also organise street skits around the theme “Swachh Rail – Swachh Bharat” to create awareness among passengers about how cleanliness can be maintained in trains and station premises. Interestingly, it was Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager of South Central Railway (SCR) who was instrumental in drawing up the blueprint that helped Secunderabad meet the norms for the ‘Green Railway Station’ tag.
The revamped railway station of Secunderabad has also started garnering international attention with many global players evincing interest in taking up station redevelopment projects. Recently, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), a statutory body under Malaysia’s Ministry of Works, has shown interest in joining ongoing public-private projects at the Secunderabad station.