With seven elephants being killed by a speeding goods train less than a month after they were declared national heritage animals, Minister of State for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh will meet with the Railway Board next week and urge concrete steps to prevent future tragedies.

Mr. Ramesh, who is currently in New York, has expressed his anguish and unhappiness with the Railways track record. “This is not the first time that such a mishap has taken place, although the scale with which it has taken place now is unprecedented particularly in the northeast frontier,” he said in a statement on Friday.

In fact, there have been 150 such jumbo deaths on the rail tracks since 1987, according to a recent report of the Elephant Task Force set up by the Environment Ministry. The report suggested slower train speeds, trackers to monitor elephant herds within 5-km of the railway line, and sensors to emit warning signals on either side of the track in accident-prone areas.

“I have written a number of letters to the Minister of Railways and have personally held a number of meetings with officials of the Railway Board. We have discussed measures to be taken in order to avoid such tragedies,” said Mr. Ramesh's statement, adding that he would meet with Railway officials after his return on Sunday.