Trains passing through wildlife sanctuaries in east reduced, SC told

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) The Indian Railways Monday told the Supreme Court that it has reduced the number of passenger trains passing at night through wildlife sanctuaries in Assam and West Bengal having large elephant populations by 76 percent.

“As per data till May, only 23-24 percent trains are running in the wildlife section and 76-77 percent trains running in non-wildlife section,” railways’ counsel told a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R. Banumathi.

The area sought to be secured for elephants comes under the stretch of Siliguri Junction and Alipurduar Junction of Alipurduar Division.

The court was told that all the goods train passing through the stretch of Siliguri Junction and Alipurduar Junction have been put under the speed limit of 25 km per hour.

The court was told that Sampark Kranti Express that used to originate from Guwahati has been from September 1, 2014, diverted to an alternate route avoiding its earlier route passing through wildlife reserve.

The court was told this in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Shakti Prasad Nayak seeking directions to regulate the movement of the trains to prevent deaths of elephants on account of collision with the fast moving trains.

Seeking the response of the PIL petitioner on the affidavit filed by the railways, the court directed the next hearing of the matter on September 16 as Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the court that affidavit by the environment and forest ministry was ready and would be filed in two days.

The railways response came in the wake of directions issued by the court on December 10, 2013 and September 2, 2014 order.

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