61 elephants died due to train hits between 2016 and 2019: CAG report
The report pointed out that advisories for the imposition of 50kmph speed limit in identified elephant passages were not being “scrupulously” followed by zonal railways
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit analysis report presented in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday said that at least 61 elephants had died between 2016 and 2019 across the country due to Indian Railway’s deficiency in providing elephant passage corridors and enforcement of precautionary measures like speed restrictions.
The audit also pointed out that the forest department along with the railways had not prioritised construction of underpass/ overpass across railway tracks to facilitate elephant movement. The report also mentioned that several elephant corridor signage boards were incorrectly positioned, defeating their very purpose of forewarning loco drivers.
The report said that a committee of senior officials of ministry of railways (MoR) and the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) was constituted in January 2013 to evolve an action plan for eliminating instances of elephant mortalities due to train hits. However, the elephants continued to die on railway tracks.
According to the CAG report, from 2016-17 to 2018-19, 61 elephants died due to collisions with trains including 37 deaths in the identified passages and 24 deaths outside it. The report stated that precautionary measures like speed restrictions were not being enforced in the notified elephant passages.
“There was no uniformity in dimension, height, colour and content of the elephant signage boards in Indian Railways. They were also placed in incorrect position defeating their purpose of forewarning the drivers. Honey bee sound devices were not installed in some of the zonal railways,” the report added.
The report pointed out that the advisories for imposition of 50 kmph speed restriction in identified elephant passages were not being “scrupulously” followed by the zonal railways. “The partial implementation of speed restrictions was causing death of elephants,” the report read.
It also said that the periodical review of vegetation clearance was not being conducted by railways and the forest officials jointly. Moreover, deployment of elephant trackers by forest departments in elephant passages and their communication with railway authorities was not found effective in the audit.