Elephant Hit by Train Near Madukkarai Dies
Even after various efforts by the Railways and the Forest departments to prevent elephant casualties in Kanjikode-Walayar-Ettimadai-Madukarai section, it is sad to note that a female elephant died after being hit by the Bengaluru-Kochuveli Express (Train no. 16315) on June 20 at midnight.
The incident happened one and a half kilometers away from the Madukkarai Station towards Ettimadai in the A line, connecting Podanur and Palakkad junctions while the train was moving at a speed of around 35 to 40 kmph. The area, in which the incident happened, is does not come under the regular elephant path. The train was running at slow speed and the loco pilot applied the brake but could not avoid hitting the elephant as it suddenly crossed the track.
This sad incident of losing valuable wildlife repeated after a gap of nearly six years. The last such incident occurred on August 15, 2010, involving train no. 12602 Mangaluru-Chennai Central, in which one elephant calf was killed.
The Railways Department is well aware of the issue and has frequent interactions with all concerned in the subject because it involves the safety of passengers and the protection of wildlife. In the last few years, the following measures have been taken to avoid such mishaps.
Railways introduced speed restriction of 45 kmph in the Kanjikode-Walayar-Ettimadai section during the night. The normal sectional speed is 65 kmph. The speed restriction is scrupulously followed by the loco pilots. To distract elephants from the railway tracks whistling also imposed and sign boards have been provided throughout the section to sensitise the train crew.
Improved visibility of loco pilots can help to avert such incidents. Keeping this in mind, the vegetation on both sides of the track are cleared at frequent intervals.
Widening of Cuttings
In some of the earlier incidents, it had been noted that the elephants were trapped inside the cutting and got hit by trains. From the inferences, a decision was taken to widen the vulnerable cuttings to provide a safe path for elephants and other wild animals.
Solar powered LED lights
In a recent effort to distract elephants from railway tracks during night, solar powered LED lights have been installed. 20 such lights have been provided in curves no. 16 and 18 in the B line.
Joint efforts with forest officials
A host of measures are also being taken by involving Forest officials to save the wild creatures. Primarily, Railway officials conduct routine inspections in the section. Awareness has been created among the passengers to not throw food items in the forest area along the tracks as this attracts animals.
These measures are found effective and the permanent solution for this crucial problem is the construction of an elephant crossing corridor under the railway track or subways and the complete fencing on both sides of the railway track along this section. Both these measures require substantial funds. A proposal of Rs 30 crore was made and in the event the Forest Department is finding it difficult to provide funds, the Railways Department is open to funding from MPLAD or through CSR.