AI route to prevent jumbo deaths: NFR, RailTel ink MoU for intrusion detection system
NFR and RailTel officials during the MoU signing ceremony on Monday

Guwahati: After the success of the pilot project on the Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based intrusion detection system (IDS) that was undertaken by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in Alipurduar Division in West Bengal and Lumding Division in Assam, NFR has now been decided to install the system gradually in all other elephant corridors spread across its jurisdiction.

In this connection, NFR on Monday inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with RailTel Corporation of India Ltd for the installation of an intrusion detection system (IDS) to avert train-elephant collision and disaster mitigation measures in areas covered by it.

The MoU was signed by G.R. Das, chief communication engineer, N. F. Railway and Zakir Siddiqui, executive director (eastern region), RailTel in the presence of NFT general manager Anshul Gupta and RailTel Corporation of India chief managing director Sanjay Kumar.

As it is, NFR has been taking many initiatives to prevent and detect the movement of wild animals, especially elephants, approaching the tracks.

Installation of IDS in important sections is one such of them. “100 per cent success of the pilot project of IDS was seen in the Chalsa-Hasimara section of the Dooars area under Alipurduar Division in West Bengal and Lanka – Hawaipur section under Lumding Division in Assam,” an official source said on Monday.

According to reports, there are 86 elephant corridors under NFR across a distance of 226 km. This is the highest number of elephant corridors in any zonal railway. Reportedly, around 120 elephants died in collisions with trains between 1990 and 2022 in areas falling under the NFR.

Notably, the IDS system is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and existing optical fibres will be used as sensors to identify the movement of wild animals at locations and alert control offices, station masters, gatemen and loco pilots.

It uses a fibre-optic-based acoustic system working on the principle of dialysis scattering phenomenon to sense the real-time presence of elephants on the track.

AI-based software can monitor unusual movements up to a stretch of 60 km. In addition to it, the IDS will also help in detecting rail fractures, trespassing on the railway track and alert about disaster mitigation owing to unauthorised digging near railway tracks, landslides near tracks, et al.

It is important to mention here that the pilot project has already been immensely successful in saving the lives of many elephants approaching railway tracks from being hit by trains.

It may be recalled amid the increasing incidence of man-elephant conflict on tracks, NFR’s Rangiya Division had back in 2017 put in a device that amplifies the buzz of swarming honeybees, a natural nemesis of elephants.

The test was conducted near tracks along corridors frequented by wild herds.

Besides, elephant-repulsion techniques such as chilli bombs and electric fences have been tried in the past but have not been quite as effective.

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The NFR had also proposed four mitigation measures on the Azara-Kamakhya section of the railway line passing through Deepor Beel in the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) report. This includes recommendations on mitigation measures in that stretch of the railway line.

The NFR has also proposed building underpasses on road sections parallel to the railway tracks and guide walls to enhance the efficacy of the railway underpasses and direct animal movement towards the underpasses to mitigate human-elephant conflict in the long term. 

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