Railways planning steps to check elephant casualties

A high-level meeting chaired by  Southern Railways General Manager V Carmelus with railway officials and officers of the Forest departments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala yesterday discussed various steps to be taken to reduce the casualties of elephants in train mishaps, official sources today said.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of death of eight wild elephants in the last six months, prompting the Tamil Nadu forest department to issue a notice to the Southern Railway seeking an explanation.

A detailed analysis of the accidents revealed that all the incidents happened during nights with the elephants coming under the wheels of express/passenger trains.

The suggestions put forth by the Forest department such as reduction in speed, restricted movement of trains during night and continous whistling were discussed at length.

Railways indicated that already continuous whistling was being carried out on both the lines and passengers were being requested not to throw food items in this section of the track as these would attract the elephants.

Besides, Southern Railways had reduced the speed of the train from 110 Kmph to 65 Kmph and trials were on for further reduction.

The Railways requested the forest departments to provide power fencing through the vulnerable section of the reserve forest to prevent the elephants from crossing the tracks.

It was also decided to commission a consultancy study by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) whose suggestions helped Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand and North Frontier Railway to ensure "zero" elephant deaths in train accidents since 2002.

WTI would be asked to come out with short-term and long-term plans which can be studied and implemented by both Railways and Forest departments.

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