Millennium Post

Concern over jumbo deaths at railway tracks

Kolkata: A tusker was severely injured after it was hit by a train in Jalpaiguri on Friday morning.

State Forest minister Bratya Basu expressed concern over the increasing elephant accidents at railway tracks.

"It is an unfortunate incident. Forest department officials and veterinarians immediately reached the spot and rescued the elephant. If our officials did not reached the spot on time then the elephant would have died," said Bratya.

The accident took place at 8.30 am when the engine of the train hit the elephant which was trying to cross the tracks in the jungle. The elephant came in front of the Siliguri-Dhubri Intercity Express while the train was between Banarhat and Nagrakata.

The forest officials reached the spot at 8.45 am and rescued the elephant that received severe injuries in its forelimbs and hindlimbs.

While the Banarhat-Nagrakata route is notorious for elephant deaths after the 168-km-long New Jalpaiguri-Alipurduar railway track was converted into broad gauge (a railway gauge, which is wider than the standard gauge of 4 ft 8 1/2 inches (1.435 metres), a total of 67 tuskers were mowed down by

trains in the period between June 2013 to June 2019. The tracks pass through a few national parks.

"We have conducted video conferences and workshops with Indian Railways officials to come up with measures to protect elephants from accidents," said Bratya.

When asked whether underpass is required to avoid accident the minister said: "If the railways think then we are ready to help them." In a bid to curb elephant accidents, the Indian Railways had limited the speed of the trains to 25 kmph inside the forest areas in 2015-2016.

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