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Forest dept steps in to stop elephant deaths on rail tracks

The department plans to reiterate their demands before the Murti-led team.

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata |
November 16, 2013 2:30:41 am

With seventeen elephants being killed on the train track between Siliguri and Alipurduar in Jalpaiguri this year,including four being mowed down on Wednesday,the state Forest Department has decided to introduce scientific methods to keep away the animals every time a train passes through the elephant corridor.

The department will install devices on trains that generate infrasonic waves,which can be sensed by elephants. When a train fitted with such a device passes by,the waves will keep elephant herds away,a senior Forest Department official explained. “But this is a long-term process and will take time to be introduced,” said N C Bahuguna,chief wildlife warden.

“We will also build underpasses for trains,which will take time. The immediate solution is to reduce the speed of trains and stop their movement through the elephant corridor at night,” he said.

The department also plans to create a monitoring system,which will alert the Railways,every time a herd crosses the tracks,a source said.

Following Wednesday’s incident,the Centre on Friday sent a Ministry of Environment and Forest team to assess the situation. Chaitanya Murti,Assistant Inspector General of Forests,will lead the team.

Though the 150 km track between Siliguri and Alipurduar has been identified as an elephant corridor,trains continue to pass though the area with speeds exceeding 70 km/hour. This,despite the forest department restricting the speed limit to 25 km/hour. Sources in department said at least 15 trains,including express and good trains,pass through the corridor.

The department plans to reiterate their demands before the Murti-led team. “We have appealed to the Railways several times to stop movement of night trains,reduce the speed limit,and reduce the number of express and goods trains. We also requested the Railways to get double line in the Falakata area to reduce traffic pressure in the Chalsa,” Bahuguna said.

Meanwhile,the state government has lodged two complaints against the Railways over Wednesday’s incident. The department also interrogated the driver of the Kavi Guru express. “The Railways initiated a departmental inquiry against the driver. But punishing a driver will not solve the issue,” said Bipin Sood,conservator of the northern circle.

The department has also set up camps near Jaldhaka bridge in Chalsa to treat injured elephants.

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