Operate night trains via Pollachi as temporary measure to avoid elephant deaths: MP

Pollachi MP K. Shanmugasundaram has appealed to the Ministry of Railways to operate night trains between Palakkad and Coimbatore via Pollachi as a temporary measure to avoid wild elephants getting killed on a section of railway line that passes through forests and peripheries.

He wanted all the trains that operate on the Palakkad-Walayar-Coimbatore segment to be shifted to Palakkad-Pollachi-Coimbatore from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A total of 11 wild elephants were killed on the railway line between Kanjikode and Madukkarai stations on the Palakkad-Walayar-Coimbatore segment from 2016 to 2021, including three pachyderms that were knocked down by a train on November 26, the MP said in a letter addressed to Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

Reducing speed of trains on the vulnerable stretch to 30 kmph, introducing Tri-Netra (Terrain Imaging for Diesel Drivers − Infrared Enhanced Optical and Radar Assisted) system and building underpasses were other temporary measures suggested by Mr. Shanmugasundaram.

The MP’s letter said that an elevated corridor that is away from the dense forest on the Kanjikode-Madukkarai section and running parallel to the Coimbatore-Palakkad highway could be a permanent solution.

Mr. Shanmugasundaram pointed out that a geographic information system (GIS) study done on the deaths of the three elephants between Kanjikode and Madukkarai revealed more insights on this section of the forest which falls under the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.

A major portion of the railway track B-line between Kanjikode and Madukkarai stations and 60% of track A-line between Walayar and Ettimadai stations seem to fall within the forestry zone and restoration zone of the NBR.

“This insight has given a clarity on why the wild elephants fall prey and get killed by the operation of trains within a biosphere, which in turn has threatened the ecosystems,” the letter said.

It added that a deeper terrain study also revealed an important factor for elephant deaths as herds congregate at water sources including Walayar lake that are close to the vulnerable section.

The GIS study was done by civil engineer and RTI activist R. Pandiyaraja of Tenkasi district and Dayanand Krishnan, a civil engineer, GIS consultant and a nature enthusiast.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:44:01 PM |

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