From Our Correspondent
Guwahati, February 13, 2018
Worried over frequent death of elephants under trains, a group of wildlife activists has moved the railway ministry with a request to adopt the mitigation measures adopted by Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand to avoid such incidents in Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The group submitted a memorandum to railway minister Piyush Goyal last week in which they said lack of stringent enforcement of speed limit regulations in sensitive wildlife zones and corridors and negligible mitigation measures result in the elephants’ sufferings.
They said at least 120 elephants have died in the country between 2009-2017 after being hit by trains. Assam, North Bengal and Tamil Nadu-Kerala border have reported maximum incidents.
At least 45 elephats have died in Assam alone after being hit by trains or in electrocution since November last year.
The memrandum said concrete measures taken by forest, railway and wildlife groups have checked mishaps in the Rajaji national park where at least 20 elephants had died on tracks between 1987 and 2002.
“The measures taken up by the national park included massive awareness programmes in identified sensitive zones, clearing the visibility-hindering vegetation along sharp bends to allow train drivers and guards to see the elephants and declaring caution zones for speed limit by trains. Railway patrolling units were also set up to monitor elephant movement near the tracks and wireless sets provided to the guards. These can be replicated, improved and enforced in other parts of the country, especially in sensitive locations where fatality rates are high,” said the memorandum.
Killing of six elephants by the Guwahati-Naharlagun Express on December 10 last year in Sonitpur district and five others by another train in Hojai district in central Assam on Sunday night have shocked many in the state.
The memorandum was signed by Bittu Sahgal, founder of Sanctuary Nature Foundation, Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust, Devangshu Nandi, volunteer of Green Army, Bangalore, Dinesh Kumar, director of Vanabandhu NRM&S Pvt. Ltd, Anish Andheria, president of Wildlife Conservation Trust, Deepak Apte, director of Bombay Natural History Society, Joydip Kundu, general secretary of SHER, Kedar Gore, director of The Corbett Foundation, Prerna Singh Bindra, former member of the National Board for Wildlife and Rituraj Phukan, secretary general of Green Guard Nature Organisation, among others.