A day after at least five elephants were killed, hit by a train in Jalpaiguri district, the West Bengal Forest department lodged two first information reports against the Railways on Thursday.
Forest officials, who put the death toll at six on Wednesday evening, hours after the incident, have revised the figure, pointing out that the condition of one of the injured pachyderms was particularly grave.
The incident occurred near the Nagrakata-Jaldhaka bridge around 5.45 p.m. when the Guwahati-bound Kabiguru Express mowed down the elephants.
“We have sent three kunkis - trained elephants - inside the forest to find whether more have been injured in the accident,” N.C. Bahuguna, Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, told The Hindu. over telephone from Jalpaiguri.
The forest department has called for concrete steps by the Railways to prevent such accidents in the region.
While more than 10 elephants were killed in accidents in north Bengal during the year, more than 40 pachyderms died since 2004 after being hit by trains.
“We do not want any interim measures but a complete stopping of all trains running at night along the route. The operation of goods and express trains along the route which falls on elephant corridors should be stopped,” Mr. Bahugana said. He added that the speed restrictions were not implemented.
It’s not an elephant corridor: Minister
Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told The Hindu that the incident happened near Nagrakata which is not an elephant corridor and the speed restrictions are not imposed there.
“At a meeting with senior Railway officials, we raised the issue that the entire track along the 165 km route passes through elephant corridors and we cannot identify some areas as more vulnerable and some as less vulnerable,” Mr. Bahuguna said.
While one of the FIRs was lodged at the Nagrakata police station, the other was filed before the Government Railway Police at Malbazar – both in Jalpaiguri.