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8 Jul 2018

Row over rail jumbo deaths

TT, Siliguri/ Alipurduar: The state forest department and Northeast Frontier Railway have blamed each other for the death two wild elephants on the Dooars rail track on Friday.

The foresters have alleged that the railways despite being intimated about the movement of elephant herds near the rail track did not regulated movement of trains. While railway officials asserted that no such information was passed to them.

On Friday, six elephants were crossing the track near the plantations of Redbank tea estate when a passenger train hit a mother and a calf. Both the animals died on the spot.

In the past one month, three elephants, including the mother and calf, have died in train accidents.

"It would be wrong to say that the train was not running in a low speed as the incident happened after 6am - the time when restriction on speed is maintained. We have always remained in touch with the forest department and have a plan of Rs 92 crore in the pipeline. There are plans like making overpasses and putting energised fences beside the track to prevent such accidents. Also, we have installed honey bee buzzers (which acts on sensors and releases buzzing sound by a swarm of bees) at five locations and five more would be installed," said C V Raman, Alipurduar divisional railway manager of the NFR.

The railway official claimed that the incidents of wild animals, particularly elephants, being hit by trains has come down in most of the sites. "Installation of the buzzers has helped and now, if we can come up with the additional infrastructure (overpasses and fences) it would further reduce such incidents," he added.

The foresters however, are aggrieved. "We have informed them about the elephants. How can the accident occur then? A police complaint has already been filed. We would take further steps if any lapse is found on part of the railways," said a senior forest official.

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