CR spends big to get monkey off its back
In the mountainous, thickly forested stretch between Kalyan and Lonavla, the Central Railway is betting big money on monkeys, reports Rajendra Aklekar.mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2009 01:18 IST
In the mountainous, thickly forested stretch between Kalyan and Lonavla, the Central Railway is betting big money on monkeys.
It is talking to suppliers for a range of devices to keep monkeys from climbing on to the masts that will support its new high-voltage power lines — and it plans to spend Rs 59.7 lakh on the anti-monkey project.
This is in addition to the Rs 14 lakh it spent last year (that contract continues) on bird-repellent gel to keep birds away from these masts.
It is in the process of upgrading power for its trains from its vintage 1,500-volt DC lines to 25,000 kv AC, to lower consumption, and run faster, longer-distance trains.
Considering the investment going into that jump in power capacity, it is taking early precautions to keep any adventurous monkey from falling off the mast and getting electrocuted on the power line.
Repairing a monkey-hit AC line will be more complicated — and expensive — than fixing the simpler DC lines now in use.
“Among the options under consideration are barbed wire, slippery surfaces fixed to the masts and sharp spikes that will keep monkeys away from the masts. We’re budgeting Rs 59.7 lakh for this,” he added.
And monkeys are a very real threat here — there’s even a hill called Monkey Hill somewhere on the line between Kalyan and Lonavla.
“This is not something new. Most railways do it. The problem exists wherever an electrified railway passes through a natural, hilly landscape,” a senior divisional railway officer said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“Bird nests on electric poles can cause short-circuits, which can even start small fires and delay trains. The gel keeps the birds away,” he added.
“I am happy to know the railways are doing so much to save animals and birds. Other organisations should take a cue from them,” said animal welfare officer K Sunish Subramanian of Plants and Animal Welfare Society.