Tamil Nadu

Railway track turned fatal for 25 elephants in over 40 years

A total of 25 elephants that have been killed since 1978 on the two rail lines that connect Kerala and Tamil Nadu through the Walayar and Madukkarai forest ranges had their fatal encounter with moving trains late at night and early morning, according to the details provided by the Palakkad Division of Southern Railway.

As many as 23 elephants were knocked down on the stretch from 1978 to March 15 this year. Three elephants were killed on Friday, at 9 p.m. This took the toll to 26. As many as 25 elephants were killed between 9 p.m. and 7.10 a.m., the data show. The time of the death of one elephant was unknown. While 17 elephants were killed on the B line, nine were killed on the A line.

The A line runs through the reserve forest for 17 km between Chullimada and Madukkarai and the B line passes through the reserve forest for 23 km between Madukkarai and Kanjikode.

R. Pandiyaraja, a Tenkasi-based activist who accesses details of elephant deaths on the two lines under the Right to Information Act, said the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Railways should take proactive steps to prevent further fatalities.

A team of experts of the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry had inspected the lines in September this year after the National Green Tribunal took suo motu cognizance of the elephant deaths based on a report in The Hindu. The report highlighted that night and early morning trains caused most deaths.

“Immediate efforts should be made by the MoEFCC, the Railways and Tamil Nadu’s Forest Department to save the lives of elephants,” Mr. Pandiyaraja said.

K. Kalidasan, of Osai, an environmental organisation, said the speed restriction should be followed strictly on the stretch as such collisions could also lead to derailment.

Official sources in the Palakkad Division said the loco pilots who operate on the stretch strictly follow the speed limits — 45 kmph from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m and 65 kmph at other times — on the vulnerable stretch.

The widening of space on either side of the track, installation of signage boards to warn loco pilots, clearance of vegetation on the sides of the track and construction of elephant ramps on high embankment were among the measures taken by the Palakkad Division to avoid trains hitting elephants, officials said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 4:01:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/railway-track-turned-fatal-for-25-elephants-in-over-40-years/article37730907.ece

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