Elephant Deaths on Rail Lines Drop Significantly, Says India Govt

The number of elephant deaths on railway tracks across India has reduced significantly following various measures taken by the government, Forest Minister Anil Madhav Dave said on Monday, without giving details.

In a reply to a written question in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, Dave said steps taken to prevent elephant mortalities due to train accidents and electrocution include:

(i) A general advisory was issued jointly to all the railway zones and relevant States Governments suggesting measures to prevent collision of trains with wild elephants. Some of the important recommendations are given below:

(a) Clearance of vegetation on the sides of railway tracks.

(b) Underpasses/overpasses/girder bridges across vulnerable stretches of railway tracks to allow safe passage elephants.

(c) Signage boards at selected points to alert train drivers.

Elephant Crossing. Image source: http://elephant-family.org/

(d) Sensitization programmes for Train Drivers/Guards/Station Masters.

(e) Engagement of elephant trackers and communication with Station Masters.

(f) To keep Railway tracks free from food wastes, that attracts elephants.

(ii) A permanent coordination committee has been constituted jointly by the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to share information and monitor the implementation of the advisory.

(iii) In order to develop specific strategies and Standard Operating Procedures and for better coordination committees have been constituted between Zonal Railway Offices and State Forest Departments.

(iv) Ministry of Railways has also been requested to regulate the speed of trains in identified vulnerable sections between sunset and sunrise.

(v) Chief Wildlife Wardens has been requested to take up the issue with electricity departments to prevent sagging of electric transmission lines and maintenance to minimum ground clearance as per rules.

(vi) Financial and technical assistance is provided to elephant range states under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Project Elephant’ for conservation and management of elephants.

(vii) Twenty nine Elephant Reserves have been notified in 14 States for conservation of elephants.

(viii) Elephant is included under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, to provide it highest degree of legal protection.

(ix) Improvement of elephant habitat, including Elephant Reserves and Corridors is carried out regularly.

(a) There is no proposal at present with the Government to formulate the policy to prevent elephant deaths due to train accidents and electrocution.