Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh minced no words in blaming Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and her officials for their “failure” to check recurrence of speeding trains crushing to death elephant herds moving across designated corridors.
Such deaths continue to take place despite their “repeated assurance” that they would regulate speed of trains, he said.
Ramesh was reacting to the death of seven jumbos on train tracks in West Bengal’s Jalpai-guri district on Wednesday. They were killed by a speeding goods train near Banarhat Station, a designated jumbo corridor.
But Banerjee made it clear “this unfortunate incident took place in an area other than the identified elephant corridor.
I have asked the Railway Board to work out a joint strategy with the Environment Ministry to prevent such incidents.”
Banerjee held in that area, between Alipurday-Siliguri section, there were only four notified corridors. The elephants had “trespassed” between Binnaguri and Bannarghat and collided with a freight train.
Banerjee said she was angui-shed too and the Railways were already in touch with Ramesh’s ministry to identify specific elephant corridors to exercise caution during train operations.
A Railway Ministry release said a ‘general advisory’ to prevent elephant accidents was jointly finalised with Ramesh’s ministry and issued as early as March 31 this year. Drivers were issued “permanent” caution order to restrict speed limit to 50 kmph, blow horn more often and be extra vigilant in the four corridors.