Officials suggest measures to prevent train-elephant collisions

A joint meeting of officials from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and Palghat Division of the Southern Railway held on Tuesday came out with a list of measures to avert elephants being hit by trains on the two railway lines connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala via Walayar.

Increasing number of field trackers, use of night visions binoculars, drones equipped with thermal sensor and random travel by the Forest Department staff in the locomotives with the consent of Railways were among measures proposed at the meeting.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj said the meeting was held at Top Slip in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.

The officials discussed short and long term measures to address the issue after three elephants were knocked down by a Chennai-bound train on the ‘A’ line between Walayar and Ettimadai on November 26 night.

Mr. Niraj said that possible solutions suggested included increasing the number of field trackers to nearly 25 as against nine now.

The Forest Department proposed training programmes to study the animal behaviour, movement pattern and seasonality. The Department suggested a vista clearance of at least 15 metres on both sides of the track. The Department staff shall be provided the timings of all train movements on ‘A’ and ‘B’ lines. They should have immediate communications from the Railways regarding changes in the rail movements.

Mr. Niraj said that the meeting explored possibilities of reducing the speed of trains on the two lines to below 35 kmph by adjusting the loads and use of bankers. Railways assured of taking these suggestions to appropriate levels for consideration.

The Department has suggested to have a number of go-slow signal lights with different colours before the most likely crossing animal paths and installation of speed detector around them.

Monthly sensitisation and awareness programmes with loco pilots and assistants, frequent removal of garbage and food left overs littered along the tracks, direct communication between the forest field trackers and the railways control rooms, setting up designated Forest Department officials for direct communications and multi-level meetings between the Railways and the Forest Department officials were other measures suggested.

The meeting decided to explore with the Ministries of Railways and Forest for funds for construction underpasses and vehicle cart roads. The Railways officials insisted upon quicker permission for forest clearance to improve sighting for loco pilots.

The Forest Department has requested access to speed details of trains regularly from the Railways. The Railways insisted upon removing illegal electric fences near the railways tracks.

The meeting decided to hold a joint field inspection before December 10 to locate sites for additional speed limit boards, ramps for elephant crossing and solar lights along A and B lines.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:13:23 AM |

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