‘Killer’ rail track passing through Dudhwa set to become historyUpdated: Feb 12, 2020 00:57 IST
LUCKNOW: A colonial era rail-route, which has claimed lives of over 100 wild animals, including endangered ones, in the last two decades in Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa forest range, will become history this Friday.
One of the oldest meter-gauge rail routes of the ‘Oudh’ region, the 170km-long track connecting Nanpara to Mailani via Dudhwa National Park will be replaced by a board-gauge route now, connecting Lakhimpur Khiri to Mailani, to be inaugurated the same day.
The closure of the route was ordered by the Allahabad High Court, which, after hearing a PIL petition, had contended that wildlife needed to be protected.
“The old rail route from Nanpara to Mialani via Dudhwa will be closed down after the inauguration of alternative rail route, which will directly connect Lakhimpur Khiri to Mialani and won’t affect the wildlife at the Dudhwa forest,” said Pankaj Kumar Singh, chief public relations officer (CPRO), Northern Eastern Railways (NER).
The initial plan of declaring the route as heritage route and to develop an eco-tourism hub has now been put on hold.
Officials said the high court had ordered closure of the old rail route to avert the frequent train accidents often reported on this rail section where wildlife is in abundance.
“This rail section was much vulnerable to the wildlife and has claimed over 100 animal deaths in last 20 years. Also, many might have gone unreported as scavengers eat them. Loss of animal life reduces their multiplication rate,” said Sanjay Pathak, director, Dudhwa National Park.
“Closing of the rail route will certainly have a positive impact on animal habitat. We have lost tigers, elephants, rare species of snakes, rhinos, crocodiles and many spotted deer in the accident here. Hopefully, such deaths won’t take place in future now,” said Pathak.
Earlier, the announcement about the transformation of the route was made in February 2018 during UP Investors’ Summit.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal had announced that the work on converting the Nanpara—Mailani meter gauge railway line into a heritage train route with heritage trains like ones made of glass, similar to what seen in Switzerland, would be introduced on the route for tourists.
Soon after the announcement, Mechanical Workshop, Izzat Nagar, Bareilly, had refurbished an old Rail Bus, which runs on Cummins engine and Cardan shaft transmission, for the purpose.
The silent rail bus, equipped with air-conditioned area, chair car seats, luggage racks, mobile and laptop charging points, LED recessed lights, LED TV screens, was readied to ferry tourists on this route.
However, after the high court order the plan was shelved.
The closure of the railway line, which will be a boon for wild animals, will also affect more than 20 lakh people, residing along the Nanpara-Mailani rail section, for which this rail section was a connecting link to adjoining areas. Presently, the rail section sees the movement of four passenger trains.