|To protect elephants, stop night movement of trains: Bengal
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Dec 4, 2013
DELHI: Though railways is developing an e-warning system along tracks
to forewarn train drivers about the presence of elephants, the West
Bengal government has told the Supreme Court that trains must not ply
through north Bengal forest areas in the night to prevent elephants
getting knocked down.
West Bengal said it was of the view that
"in case of north Bengal, the only solution is to stop all the trains
running at night in Dooars line (Gulma-Alipurduar) or running at
maximum speed of 25 km per hour" and added that 78% of elephant deaths
occurred during the night (6 pm to 6 am).
The Mamata Banerjee
government, responding to a PIL on elephant deaths on railway tracks,
told the SC, "Since 1974 till date, 70 elephants were killed in train
accidents, out of which 67 were in north Bengal. In the last three
years, the number of elephants killed on railway tracks counts to 28."
petitioner Shakti Prasad Nayak had alleged that 57 elephants were
killed after colliding with running trains in West Bengal since 1994.
The state said, "Most such accidents took place in north Bengal and
within forest areas." It identified the Gulma-Alipurduar track as a
death trap for elephants as the railway track cut through the elephant
"On September 22, 2010, seven elephants got killed
being hit by a speeding train. On January 5 this year, five elephants
were knocked down and on May 30 this year, four more were killed and
one injured by a train," the state said. Trains killed 10 elephants in
2010, three in 2011, two in 2012 and 10 in 2013, it added.
is not denied that number of death of elephants on railway tracks in
north Bengal has increased after conversion of metre gauge line from
Gulma to Alipurduar (Dooars line) into broad gauge in 2004. Since then,
40 incidents of elephant deaths due to running trains have taken
place," the state said.