The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Indian Railways saying that the national transporter has not taken precautionary measures like speed restriction in the notified elephant passages to prevent deaths of animals on tracks.
"Audit analysis of identified passages and elephant deaths on track revealed that more number of elephant casualties was reported in those locations which were identified as elephant passages," the statement stated.
The CAG in its audit report, which was conducted during 2018-19, the forest department and Railways had not given priority to construction of underpass/overpass across railway tracks which facilitate elephant movement.
The report tabled in Lok Sabha also said that 37 deaths occurred in the identified passages and 24 deaths occurred in the un-identified passages.
"There was no uniformity in dimension, height, colour and content of the elephant signage boards in Indian Railways. They were also placed in incorrect position defeating their purpose of forewarning the drivers. Honey bee sound devices were not installed in some of the Zonal Railways," the statement added.
The report stated that during 2016-17 to 2018-19, train collisions resulted in the death of 61 elephants.
The CAG said a committee of senior officials of the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Environment and Forests (government of India, and governments of West Bengal and Odisha) was constituted in January 2013 to evolve an action plan for eliminating instances of elephant mortalities due to train hits.
The committee recommended short-term and long-term measures to prevent train-elephant collisions. Although steps were taken by both the Railways and the Forest Department, elephants continued to die on track.