GUWAHATI, Oct 29 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) today said that various preventive measures initiated by it have resulted in saving the lives of more than 140 elephants on the tracks so far during the current year.
�Although there are 67 elephant corridors notified jointly in consultation with the forest department of the respective states in five divisions of NFR, including one in Katihar division, 22 in Alipurduar division, 23 in Rangiya division, 16 in Lumding division and five in Tinsukia division, it has been noticed that wild elephants often cross railway tracks through areas which are not notified as corridor. As railway drivers are instructed to run the train at controlled speed through notified elephant corridor areas, the case of elephant hits has come down drastically. But it is very difficult to control a train when the driver suddenly notices elephants on railway tracks in areas which are not notified as elephant corridors,� said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR.
He said that incidents of elephants crossing railway tracks is more common in Alipurduar division and to some extent in Lumding and Rangiya divisions of NFR. Chanda said that in the current year till date there have been 122 incidents where drivers had to stop trains to allow herds of elephant cross the railway tracks.
He added that NFR has taken various initiatives to avoid train-elephant collision. �They include installation of laser speed radar guns to detect over-speeding cases in elephant zones. All train drivers have been counselled to observe all permanent and temporary speed restrictions, fixing of buzzer with honey bee sound at level crossing gates of vulnerable locations. Staff of pantry cars as well as train passengers are being sensitised not to throw any eatables or leftover items on or near railway tracks so that elephants or other animals do not get lured to the tracks,� Chanda said.
He added that sign boards have been provided on all identified elephant corridors to pre-warn drivers.
�Clearance of vegetation on both sides of railway tracks to improve visibility of drivers has been taken up. In Alipurduar division, for quick exchange of information 25 watt VHF sets with frequency of the forest department have been provided at Rajabhatkhawa, Kalchini and Hasimara stations. Forest department staff who are supposed to get pre-intimation of elephant movements from field are posted at the train control office in Alipurduar division so that train drivers can be intimated immediately by the nearest station master to run the train cautiously due to movement of elephants. Moreover, construction of ramps, passages, underpasses, overpasses and fencing at various vulnerable locations has also been done and under way to avoid elephant casualty. The measures initiated by the railways have been able to reduce train-elephant collision-related incidents as well as casualty by a great extent,� said the NFR CPRO.