A total of 60 elephants died in railway accidents between 2016-18, and 5 in 2019 until June 20, according to figures tabled by the Railways Ministry in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The number of deaths was 19 and 15 in the first two years, then rose to 26 in 2018.
Northeast Frontier Railway accounted for the highest number of deaths at 28 during 2016-18, or nearly half the total. In each of the three years, the number of elephants killed on in this railway zone, at 9, 10 and 9 respectively, was higher than in any other zone. Of the five elephants killed this year, one was in NF Railway zone and two each in East Coast and Northern Railways.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tabled the data in reply to a question on animals, particularly elephants, killed on railway tracks. He presented separate data that showed over 32,000 animals other than elephants, including lions, leopards, buffalo, and cows, were killed during 2016-18, and another 3,479 in 2019 until June 20. From 7,945 in 2016, the number reached highs of 11,683, and 12,625 in the next two years. West Central Railway (11,489) and North Central Railway (10,927) accounted for the highest fatality counts.
About measures to control the trend, the ministry said an action plan has been formulated by the zonal railways along with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which includes imposing speed limits, sensitisation of personnel, time-bound clearance of vegetation on sides of railway tracks within railway land, new ramps and underpasses for animals, and fencing.