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Elephant death: Railways blames forest department for not sharing information

A day after a train mowed down five elephants in Sonitpur district, Northeast Frontier Railways today accused the Assam forest department of not sharing the movement of the animals with it.

A day after a train mowed down five elephants in Sonitpur district, Northeast Frontier Railways today accused the Assam forest department of not sharing the movement of the animals with it. A group of railway and forest officials was created on a social media platform sometime back for sharing information on movements of wild elephants near railway track, NFR Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said. “However, there was no information on sighting of wild elephants in the group before the accident,” he said. Five elephants, including a pregnant one, were killed around 1.30 AM yesterday at Bamgaon Tea Estate after the Guwahati-Naharlagun Donyi Polo Express hit them. The drivers of the train were caught unaware by the appearance of the elephant herd at the place. “The area is not known for elephant movements and is at least four kilometres away from notified elephant corridors,” Sharma said in a statement.

While the accident occurred at km 135, the nearest elephant corridors notified by the forest department are at km 131 and km 144 in Rangiya division of NFR, where speed of all trains are routinely controlled and drivers are advised to be on alert, he said. “Following the unfortunate accident, Rangiya Division has unilaterally imposed a speed restriction of non-stop 30 kmph at the site of accident,” the spokesman said. He said even if there were movements of elephants in non-corridor areas, railways has put in place mechanisms for monitoring the animals jointly with forest department. “The herd of elephants entered the railway track by breaking barriers at a level crossing, but by such time the train was already in the section and it was impossible to stop the train,” he said.

As soon as the loco pilot and the co-loco pilot spotted the elephants, they reduced the speed of the train without compromising safety of the passengers as applying brakes suddenly could have resulted in a derailment, Sharma said. However, despite all efforts, the train knocked down five elephants, who were killed.
Date:12 Dec 2017