Govt erects 118-km rail barricade to keep elephants out

Photo for representation.

The Cabinet on Thursday decided to erect 118 km of railway line barricades at a cost of Rs 100 crore inside Nagarahole, Bandipur and other forests to prevent conflict between wild elephants and humans. 

In all, the government has a target of putting up 515.50 km of railway barricades to prevent elephants from entering human habitats over the
next three years at a cost of Rs 628 crore. 

“To mitigate the elephant menace and find a permanent solution to the man-animal conflict, it has been decided to erect 118-km railway barricades in forest areas at a cost of Rs 100 crore,” Law Minister J C Madhuswamy said, briefing reporters. The railway barricades will cut through the forests of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve (24 km), Bandipur (17 km), Madikeri (19 km), Virajpet (3 km), Male Mahadeshwara in Kollegal (13 km), Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollegal (15 km), Ramanagara (6 km), Bannerghatta National Park (15 km) and Hassan (6 km). 

Madhuswamy said the government wanted to use railway barricades as earlier methods to prevent wild elephants from straying into human habitats - the use of barbed wires, for example - were unsuccessful. 

Last year, the Supreme Court had directed Karnataka to remove spikes in places frequented by wild elephants on a PIL filed by conservationist  Prerna Singh Bindra to avoid any cruelty to them.

“The state government has installed used-rail barricades in some rough terrain including black cotton soils. However, there are still some small gaps in the barricades, which cannot be sealed by these structures. In such areas, spikes were being used to deter elephants from entering habitations,” the state government had told the top court in an affidavit.

“For every one km of railway barricade,” Madhuswamy said, “the government will need Rs 1.20 crore.” 

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