Military train mows down 2 elephants in North Bengal

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2014 17:54 IST

A military special train mowed down two elephants in North Bengal around 2am on Tuesday between Kalchini and Hashimara in North Bengal, more than 500 km too the north of Kolkata.

The area is known as a busy elephant corridor where onrushing trains have often killed many elephants down the years.

According to early reports, departmental proceedings will be initiated against the driver and guard of the train.

The elephant population in the region is spread over nine forest divisions in the districts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. A 74-km stretch of a 161-km railway track between Siliguri and Alipurduar passes through this region.

The death of elephants by moving trains has regularly caused much debate and acrimony down the years.

On November 14, last year, a train moving at about 50 km per hour mowed down seven elephants including two calves, triggering concern and dismay throughout the country. That accident, too, happened at dusk.

Responding to a public interest litigation, the West Bengal government submitted in the supreme court that in north Bengal, the only solution is to stop trains running at night in Dooars, or running at maximum speed of 25 km per hour. The government also mentioned that 78% of the elephant deaths occurred between 6 pm to 6 am, when it becomes rather difficult for the drivers to spot the dark-complexioned animals crossing the rail tracks.

"Since 1974 till date (end 2013), 70 elephants were killed in train accidents, out of which 67 were in north Bengal. In the last three years, the number of elephants killed on railway tracks counts to 28," the Bengal government told the apex court.

The PIL had identified the Gulma-Alipurduar track as a death trap for elephants.

Trains killed 10 elephants in 2010, three in 2011, two in 2012 and 10 in 2013.

The railways also told the court last year that it was trying to develop a "wireless animal tracking system" that could sense and emit warning signals if the train approached big animals.

The pilot project was proposed by IIT-Delhi.

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