September 18th, 2012
11:29 AM GMT
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New Delhi (CNN) – Every morning at the crack of dawn, residents of a New Delhi slum gather by the railway tracks to do what most would only do in private - go to the toilet.

One by one, they arrive with water bottles in hand. Some try to hide, while others are less coy.

This has been shop owner Mukhesh's morning routine for the past 40 years.

"I guess I do get embarrassed but what can I do?" Mukhesh asked with a shy grin.

India's vast railways system, which carries some 11 million passengers a day, is often called the lifeline of India.

But one government official has dubbed it something else. "The Indian railway is really the world's biggest open toilet," said Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, at a recent bio-lavatory launch.

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