Central Railway School takes steps to go green, encourages student participation in its efforts
As the Railways completes 165 years since coming to existence in the country, the celebrations are extra special for the Central Railway School in Kalyan this year. On April 26, the school will complete 100 years since its establishment.
The Railways administers fewer than 100 schools at present. “When I joined this school as a lecturer, there were around 600 railway schools,” says Jacob Thomas, principal of Central Railway School. Mr. Thomas has been part of the school for the last 26 years and has been the principal since 2014. According to Mr. Jacob, the school was the first railway school to introduce computer education in 1998, an initiative which won it a national award in 2005.
One of the key goals for the school now is to get a green certificate from the Indian Green Building Council. The school has a butterfly garden with 60 species, a medicinal garden with around 200 varieties of plants and composting facilities. Besides, it is undergoing several modifications.
“Earlier this year, we installed a biogas plant which supplies gas to our canteen. We will also install solar panels once the academic year ends,” says Mr. Thomas.
The Railways has sanctioned the plan to install 50 KV solar panels in the school. The green cover, Mr. Jacob says, is a result of three-and-a-half years of continuous work by the faculty and staff. There are also plans to set up a small waste water treatment plant and reuse the water to maintain this cover.
The school’s students actively take part in maintaining the school’s facilities. Students have also been part of activities such as painting the walls at Kalyan station and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Jagruti Gaikwad, who was part of a team that painted the walls of CSMT’s Platform 18, says, “It was a fantastic experience, as it provided us a much bigger canvas to express ourselves than the usual drawing paper we get.” Ms. Gaikwad’s father is a Railways employee.
Children of railway staff make up over 60% of the school’s 1,700 students. The school was initially a primary school set up exclusively for railway staff and officers’ wards. Mr. Jacob reckons the building is over 100 years old as it used to be staff quarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, the predecessor of the Central Railway (CR). The school is also trying to set up an alumni association, to connect the thousands who have spent time under its roof over the years.
CR spends around ₹4 crore annually for the school’s upkeep. “We are doing all we can to preserve the heritage of the building, and we have got a lot of support from the railway administration,” says Mr. Jacob. He added that demolishing the structure and constructing a new building would be harmful to the environment. The administration is also hopeful of getting a heritage tag for the building.