Cut train speeds, save wildlife: forest dept to SWR

Despite the order, a 15-year-old male Indian Gaur was mowed down by a speeding train in the wee hours of Wednesday on the Miraj-Londa section. DH Photo

Following deaths of wild animals on railway tracks, the Karnataka Forest Department, armed with a Supreme Court order, has shot off a letter to South Western Railway (SWR) calling for slowing down trains passing through protected areas.

In response, the railways have ordered its loco pilots to reduce train speeds to 30 kmph to 60 kmph from the existing 75 to 100 kmph on various routes.

However, despite the order, a 15-year-old male Indian Gaur was mowed down by a speeding train in the wee hours of Wednesday on the Miraj-Londa section.  

The move comes after a city-based techie-turned-activist Giridhar Kulkarni wrote to the forest department in the first week of August to comply with the 2014 orders of the Supreme Court. The forest department on August 23 wrote to SWR general manager to comply with the court order. According to the letter, a copy of which is with DH, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden said, “Speed restriction is to be imposed to an extent feasible on trains passing through the wildlife protected areas wherever advised by wildlife authorities. If the loco pilots fail to adhere to the speed restriction imposed in such sections/crossings, they are liable to be taken up for the act of over speeding under the provisions of Disciplinary and Appeal Rules (DAR).”

Acknowledging the forest department’s direction, SWR revealed to DH that it has already ordered its loco pilots of both goods and passenger trains to reduce speeds while passing through protected areas. “To prevent accidents involving elephants and trains, measures like permanent speed restriction, speed restriction and other temporary measures have been taken. Permanent speed restrictions of 30 to 40 kmph have been imposed on Bengaluru-Salem stretch near Toppur keeping in mind the wildlife population,” said E Vijaya, DGM(G) and CPRO, SWR, Hubballi.

Similarly, the SWR in Hubballi division has also imposed speed restriction ranging from 40 kmph to 65 kmph from the earlier 70 kmph to 100 kmph on stretches like Londa-Miraj, Londa-Vasco-da-Gama and Hubballi-Londa lines.

According to Kulkarni, in the last four years, about 20 Indian Gaurs, two elephants and a sloth bear and dhol have been killed in accidents. “We are contemplating a contempt petition against the Railways,” he said.

 

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Cut train speeds, save wildlife: forest dept to SWR

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