To avoid accidents on upcoming Sevoke-Rangpo line
To get started a project that has been hanging for four years now for want of environment and forest clearance, the Railways have decided to install sensors to track the pachyderms present on or near rail tracks.
The Railway Ministry has sought a detailed report on the feasibility of the project in order to get approval for the construction of the first rail link to Sikkim which is estimated to cost Rs.1,340 crore.
The Sevoke (village in West Bengal) to Rangpo (in Sikkim) rail line will be the second to pass through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to Asiatic elephants and other endangered wildlife species.
The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests had put this project on hold fearing that the proposed rail link would endanger elephants, five of whom were killed in January alone.
The Railway Ministry has emphasised the urgency of the route not only to connect Sikkim with the rest of the country by putting it on the rail network, but also to speed up the economic development of the North-East region.
It ruled out the possibility of an alternative route as it would involve diplomatic channels to get Bangladesh on board.
The sensors would detect the presence of elephants along the tracks that pass through the protected forest area and alert the train driver of the impending risk to the herd, apply the breaks and sound the whistle.
Railway officials said the other possibility is to give the right of way to the elephants once they are sighted near the tracks adopting the system adopted in the Gir forest to protect lions after three or four of them were killed in the seventies. In such an arrangement the trains run only at a speed of 20 km per hour in the forest area and stop when the lion is sighted close to the track. The same system could be put in place in the Mahananda sanctuary.
Under the proposed project, the 51-km Sevoke-Rangpo line has been provided with 14 tunnels winding through the protected forests of Darjeeling and East Sikkim.
To avoid accidents on upcoming line The line will pass through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
To avoid accidents on upcoming line
The line will pass through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary