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10 Jun 2018

Track death after meet on jumbos

The elephant run over at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri on Saturday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Alipurduar/Jalpaiguri: An elephant died after knocked down by a passenger train early on Saturday, hours after rail and forest officials held a brainstorming session to reduce such fatalities on the Dooars tracks.

The railway line through Dooars connects Siliguri with Alipurduar and passes through wildlife habitats like Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Buxa Tiger Reserve and also through the fringes of Gorumara and Jaldapara, both national parks.

Since 2002 when the track was converted from metre to broad gauge, over 70 elephants have been mowed down by speeding trains.

The deaths had prompted the railways and the forest department to come up with new plans like regulation of speed, putting signage posts along the track in elephant crossing zones and alerting loco pilots time and again. The latest initiative was installation of buzzers which release sounds like a swarm of bees that discourages elephants from moving towards the track.

On Saturday, sources said the female elephant was crossing the tracks near Debpara Tea Estate in Banarhat of Jalpaiguri when the train, heading towards Alipurduar Junction, knocked it down, killing the animal the spot.

"The train driver's statements reveal the elephant had suddenly come on to the tracks. We are conducting an inquiry into whether the train was running within the speed limit," said Chandraveer Raman, DRM of the Alipurduar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

On Friday, foresters and railway officials had held a meeting at the Nature Interpretation Centre in Madarihat of Alipurduar district that continued till late evening.

At the meeting, it was decided to build a 100-metre-long overpass near the Diana river in Nagrakata block of Jalpaiguri (a common elephant crossing zone) and install CCTVs.

Two trampled

Two persons were trampled to death by wild elephants in Alipurduar on Saturday. Jangibir Bahadur Chhetri, 68, was from Madarihat. Lakshman Rai, 40, was from Purba Khayerbari.

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