Palakkad, June 21, 2016 : A female elephant died after it was hit by Train No. 16315 Bengaluru- Kochuveli Express in Kanjikode-Walayar- Ettimadai-Madukarai Section at 00.55 hours on June 20. A press release from the Palakkad Division of Southern Railways said the casualty could be averted despite various efforts taken by the Railways and Forest Department to prevent elephant casualties in the area.
The incident occurred around one and a half kilometers away from the Madukkarai Station towards Ettimadai in the A line, connecting Podanur and Palakkad Junction while the train was moving at 35 to 40 kmph speed. The area, in which the incident happened, is not coming under the regular elephant path. The train was running at slow speed and the loco pilot applied the brake but could not avoid hitting the elephant as it suddenly crossed the track, the release added.
The sad incident of losing a valuable wild life is repeating after a gap of six years. Last such incident occurred on 15.8.10 involving train no. 12602 Mangaloru – Chennai central Mail in which one elephant calf was killed, the release further stated.
Railway is well aware of the issue and is having frequent interactions with all concerned in the subject as it involves safety of passengers and protection of wild life. In the last few years the following measures have been taken to avoid such mishaps.
Railways introduced speed restriction of 45 Kmph in the Kanjikode – Walayar – Ettimadai section, during the night. To distract elephants from the railway tracks whistling is also done and sign boards have been provided throughout the section to sensitize the train crew.
Improved visibility of Loco pilots can help to avert the elephant hitting incidents. Keeping this in mind, the vegetation on both sides of the track are cleared at frequent intervals.
Widening of Cuttings
In some of the earlier incidents it had been noted that the elephants were trapped inside the cutting and got hit by trains. From the inferences decision was taken to widen the vulnerable cuttings to provide a safe path to elephants and other wild animals.
Solar powered LED lights
In a recent effort to distract elephants from railway track during night, solar powered LED lights have been installed. 20 numbers of such lights have been provided in curves no. 16 and 18 in B line.
Joint efforts with forest officials
A host of measures are also being taken by involving Forest Officials to save the wild creatures. Primarily Railway officials are conducting routine inspections in the section. Awareness has been created among the passengers against throwing food items in the forest area along the track which attracts animals.
These measures are found effective and permanent solution for this crucial problem is the construction of elephant crossing corridor under the the railway track or sub-ways and the complete fencing on both sides of the railway track on this section. As both these measres require substantial funds, a proposal of Rs.30 crores has been made, said the release.