Six elephants, including two calves, were mowed down by a train near Nagrakata in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district on Wednesday evening. A few others in the herd were injured.
“The incident is a result of callousness on the part of the Railways. There is a clear restriction on speed, not exceeding 40 kmph. But we have reports that the Guwahati-bound Kabiguru Express was running at a higher speed,” Forest Minister Hiten Barman told The Hindu over telephone.
The West Bengal Forest department has proposed that the permissible speed be reduced to 25 kmph along the route. Mr. Barman said an official inquiry would be conducted into the matter and a report given to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“We have repeatedly urged the Railways not to use the 165-km-long track between Siliguri and Alipurduar. Instead, they should use an alternative route as elephant corridors run across the existing one,” he said.
This year, more than 10 elephants have so far been fatally hit by trains in north Bengal, according to senior forest officials.