'Fences, speed limits to avoid elephant deaths'

'Fences, speed limits to avoid elephant deaths'

The Centre has before the Supreme Court listed out measures undertaken by different state governments, including fencing, coordination of forest and railways staff and setting up speed limit, to prevent elephant deaths due to train-hit.

Among the states, Karnataka said that it has put up power fences and used rail angles along with elephant-proof trenches as preventive measures, while Kerala engaged elephant watchers, put 45 km/hour speed limit on trains and set up warning boards to remind drivers about presence of elephants. Kerala has also made it mandatory for train drivers to resort to continuous whistling of trains to avoid elephants coming on tracks. It has also cleared vegetations around tracks as other short-term measures.

In an affidavit, the Ministry of Environment and Forest pointed out that Uttarakhand government reported death of one tusker between September 19, last and June 30, this year. Chhattisgarh claimed that there was no elephant death due to train hit but three of them died after being electrocuted. The response was filed on direction of the SC which was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Sanjeeb Panigrahi on behalf of journalist Shakti Prasad Nayak.

The West Bengal government, however, said that despite its programme to control population of Asian elephants, their numbers increased from 175 to 529 in north Bengal.
The Assam government, on its part, submitted that it has started joint patrolling along the railways tracks and put up speed limit of 20 km/hour to check any elephant death.

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