150 jumbos mowed down by speeding trains since 1987

Last Updated: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 21:23

Kolkata: The death of seven elephants on rail tracks in West Bengal has brought to fore the threat the jumbos are facing in the country with as many as 150 of them being mowed down by speeding trains since 1987.

According to the latest report of the Elephant Task Force (ETF) of the Environment Ministry, after Assam, West Bengal, where the tragedy occured yesterday, is in second
position in terms of elephant casualties due to train movements.
Kolkata: The death of seven elephants on rail tracks in West Bengal has brought to fore the threat the jumbos are facing in the country with as many as 150 of them being mowed down by speeding trains since 1987.

According to the latest report of the Elephant Task Force (ETF) of the Environment Ministry, after Assam, West Bengal, where the tragedy occured yesterday, is in second
position in terms of elephant casualties due to train movements.
Most of the accidents (80 per cent) have happened in summer between January and June by night-bound trains when the animals venture out in search of water and food, says the
report while suggesting a string of mitigative steps for the safety of jumbos, selected as national heritage animal.

The report, prepared at the behest of the Environment Ministry, has sought to bring railway projects in elephant habitats under the Forest Conservation Act and based on the
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) to be conducted on elephant movement by qualified biologists with expertise.

"Necessary amendment could also be considered in Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Environment (Protection) Act, with a provision that any new investment of value Rs 100
million and above on forest lands already authorised for 63 non-forest uses will be subject to clearance again by the Ministry with compulsory EIA," as per report.
Intensive survey of accident prone areas was suggested to identify possible factors responsible for elephant deaths due to train hits besides site-specific short and long term
mitigation measures. Other suggestions include engagement of elephant trackers round the year to receive information regarding presence of elephant herds within five kilometers of the track length.

It has also suggested supporting researches to develop sensors that could be deployed on either side of the track in accident prone areas to emit warning signals (sound/light) on
approach of heavy bodied animals.

Railways should reduce speed of train passing through forest or high accident prone areas while train drivers, cabin crew, guards, passengers and caterers need to be sensitized to avert such accidents, says the report.

PTI



First Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 21:23

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