Two kunkis guard the injured elephant as foresters try to drag the animal out of the ditch. Telegraph picture
Alipurduar, Jan. 6: One of the two elephants hit by a speeding train at Panjipara last evening was pulled out of a ditch where it fell after the accident.
It is suspected that the animal has multiple fractures in its hind legs.
This afternoon, the male elephant, aged around 10 years, was pulled out with the help of a bulldozer. Two kunkis (pet elephants) have been kept near the injured animal.
Conservator of forest, wildlife (north), V.K. Sud said three vets were looking after the wounded elephant that is unable to stand because of its leg injury.
“The elephant is being taken inside the forest. The vets will discuss and decide on the course of treatment later,” he said this evening.
Last night the elephant was given pain killers.
Yesterday around 6.30pm, a herd of five elephants that was crossing the tracks was hit by the Guwahati-bound Guwahati-Jhajha Express at Panjipara between Alipurduar junction and Rajabhatkhaowa under the Buxa Tiger Reserve (west division).
Three animals were killed and two were injured.
Foresters said the other wounded animal has gone inside the forest and a search was on to look for it.
Tomorrow, a meeting would be held at Rajabhatkhaowa where forest and railway officials and representatives of the nearby forest villages would be present.
“Suggestions of the villagers will be heard at the meeting and proposals will be framed about precautions that can be taken to avoid such incidents. The railway is not following the speed restrictions. I will submit a report to the chief minister and request her to take up the issue with the Centre,” forest minister Hiten Barman said after visiting the spot this morning.
Sources said the maximum speed limit for trains passing the tiger reserve is 40kmph.
Yesterday after the accident, the driver had stopped the train and informed railway officials.
Trains running in the Alipurduar Junction-Siliguri section were halted at different stations. The services became normal around 12.30am.
When railway workers tried to clear the tracks an hour after the accident, the forest villagers prevented them. They demanded that their suggestions be considered to curb the number of animal deaths on tracks. Around 9.30pm, B. Lakra, the assistant divisional railway manager, Alipurduar, spoke to the villagers after which the workers were allowed to clear the area.
In the past 10 years, 35 elephants have died on tracks in the section.
On September 22, 2010, seven elephants were mowed down by a goods train at Moraghat, also in the section.
“The incident is very unfortunate. But co-ordination between the forest and the railways has improved and because of that, the number of incidents has reduced. In this section the speed restriction is imposed from 7pm. The incident occurred before that. We are thinking of imposing the restriction earlier. We will be able to know the exact speed of the train after collecting readings from the recorder. But I think the it was not more than 60kmph,” Lakra had said yesterday.
The deputy field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve (east), Bhashkar J.V said today that the accident occurred because of the driver’s negligence. “This is clear negligence on the part of the pilot because according to rules, whenever a train enters Buxa the maximum speed limit should be 40kmph. I came to know from the passengers that the train was travelling at a high speed as it was running late. We have detained the driver and recorded his statement. We are looking for the animal that has gone inside the forest.”
Panjipara is 13km from Alipurduar.
S.S. Bist, the principal chief conservator of forest, said: “The incident is really unfortunate. The pain must be intolerable for the injured elephant. If the doctors are certain that the elephant is not in a position to be cured, they can go for mercy killing.”
This evening, around 20 people from different wildlife NGOs in Alipurduar lit candles at Chowpathy in the town to protest the incident.
Animesh Bose of Himalayan Nature Adventure Foundation said: “A number of meetings were held after the Moraghat incident both in Delhi and Calcutta but the railways department does not bother about any speed restrictions. The Indian government has declared elephants as the heritage animal of the country but railways does not bother.”
Today, the flesh of the three dead elephants were sent to the vulture breeding centre at Rajabhatkhaowa to feed the birds.