Guwahati: Sadly, jumbos are routinely injured or killed by speeding trains as railway tracks pass through elephant corridors at various places in Assam.
On Saturday, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has urged the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to deploy high-end technology to prevent elephant deaths due to collisions with trains.
Significantly, the meeting was held after the death of three jumbo deaths. Last Sunday, a wild elephant, which was injured after being hit by the Rajdhani Express train in Assam’s Jorhat district, succumbed to its injury on Wednesday. The two elephants including the calf died soon after the mishap, but the third elephant was found lying inside a nearby jungle with severe injuries caused by the train hit. However, Forest department personnel provided some treatment, but the animal died after three days.
During a meeting with officials to review various infrastructure growth plans, Chief Minister provided the instructions. Ansul Gupta, the general manager of NF Railway, was present as well.
Taking to Twitter, Assam CM wrote, “Issues like elephant corridor and elephant deaths caused by train hits were also discussed. Asked the GM to deploy high-end tech solutions for saving our tuskers.”
“To discuss expansion of existing rail infrastructure & new projects, met NF Railway GM Shri Ansul Gupta, ASTC (Assam State Transport Corporation) MD Shri Rahul Chandra Das & senior officials of both the organisations”, Sarma said.
During the meeting, the chief minister also said his government will allot land to NF Railway for setting up a second entry to Guwahati Railway Station from the Paltan Bazar side.
“For expanding infrastructure at Agthori Railway Station, we’ll provide land after getting a request from NFR,” Sarma added.
Meanwhile, official statistics said that Assam lost some 129 elephants due to electrocution during the period.
On October 5, an elephant has died after being electrocuted by an illegal wire in the Gossaigaon district. The elephant had reportedly come out of the forest in search of food when it accidentally touched a high-tension electric wire which was present a lot below the prescribed height. The incident took place at the Chanfan forest range of Peripur village in the district. Villagers in the area have blamed the electricity department and forest officials for the accident.
Sabyasachi De, CPRO, Northeast Frontier Railway said, “At least 35 elephants died after being allegedly knocked down by moving train from 2017 to June 2022 due to train collisions. But, on the other side, NFR has managed to save lives of around 1,166 elephants from train collision because of our speed restrictions and alertness of loco pilots.”
However, a total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21, according to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India.
As per the data furnished by the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27).
As per officials, there are 22 elephant corridors in north-eastern India.