Guwahati: Loco pilots have saved over 100 elephants in 2018 at the Alipurduar division of Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway, owing to several initiatives undertaken by the railway division to avoid train-elephant collision.
According to a press release issued by the chief public relations officer (CPRO) of NF Railway, Pranav Jyoti Sharma, so far this year, there have been only five incidents where drivers had to stop the train to give way to a herd of elephant crossing the railway track.
Stopping trains as and when the drivers noticed movement of elephant herds near or over railway tracks has helped in saving several pachyderms in the recent years. The figure of such cases stands at 115 in 2018, and 119 during 2017. In 2016 and 2015, it was 145 and 118, respectively.
Various measures undertaken
The Alipurduar division of NF Railways has installed laser speed radar gun to detect over-speeding cases in elephant zones, and has also counselled all loco pilots and track men to observe all permanent and temporary speed restrictions.
Further, it has set up buzzers with honey bee sound at level crossing gates of vulnerable locations. The sound keeps jumbos away and has significantly led to a drop in train-elephant collisions.
To avoid unnecessary luring of animals near railway tracks, the authorities have sensitised pantry staff and travellers to not dump any leftover food on or near railway tracks.
NF Railway has cleared vegetation on both sides of the tracks to improve visibility and put up sign boards to pre-warn drivers at all identified elephant corridors decided by forest department of the West Bengal government.
For quick exchange of information, 25-watt VHF sets with frequency of forest department have been provided at Rajabhatkhawa, Kalchini and Hasimara stations. Forest department staff who are supposed to get pre-intimation of elephant movement from the field are posted at the train control office at Alipurduar Junction so that train drivers can be intimated immediately by the nearest station master to run the train cautiously due to movement of elephant.
Moreover, constructions of ramps, passage, underpass, overpass and fencing at various vulnerable locations have also been done and under way to avoid elephant casualty.