A third rail line to save elephants?

With the 20-km rail stretch between Kanjikode in Palakkad and Madukkarai in Coimbatore turning into a death trap for wild elephants, the demand for a rail line outside the forests parallel to the Coimbatore-Palakkad national highway is gaining momentum.

The rail stretch at present passes through the Walayar forests.

On Sunday, a wild tusker was run over by the Palakkad-Trichy Passenger at Attupathy, near Kanjikode.

Speeding trains had killed 25 elephants in the past 16 years on the stretch.

With summer fast approaching, forest officials and animal lovers anticipate more such untoward incidents.

“Most of the casualties happened on the ‘B’ line. Though wild elephants disrupted rail traffic on the stretch on 66 occasions between June and October this year, 53 of them were on the ‘B’ line. As the ‘A’ line also passes through dense forests comprising traditional migratory path of elephants, our demand is a ‘C’ line parallel to the national highway,” says S. Guruvayurappan, South India coordinator of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

Though rail authorities have agreed to the feasibility of the third line, lack of funds is proving to be a stumbling block. “If Railways fail to find resources for the third line, the Forest Departments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu must offer financial help in view of the safety of the remaining elephants in the region,” said environmentalist P.S. Panicker.

Environmentalists have called upon the Railways and the Forest Department to create overpasses and underpasses for the safe movement of elephants on the stretch.

A computerised system with CCTVs to alert drivers on the movement of elephants should be in place, they said. As a temporary measure, the Railway Ministry has allocated Rs. 8 crore to erect makeshift walls of used rail tracks to prevent elephants from entering the tracks.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 3:45:22 AM |

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