The dead tusker on the Damanpur rail tracks in Alipurduar on Tuesday. Telegraph picture
Alipurduar, March 5: An adult tusker was killed by a speeding train at Damanpur under Buxa Tiger Reserve here this morning.
According to the railways, the tusker was mowed down at 7.30am, a time when trains can run at their usual speed, not the restricted 50kmph, which has to be adhered to from 6pm-6am.
The Delhi-Guwahati Sampark Kranti Express, which was running four hours late, was running at a speed of 90kmph.
After crossing the Rajabhatkhawa station the train hit the adult tusker which suddenly appeared in front of the engine, according to railway officials. The driver tried to stop the train but failed to do so. The engine dragged the tusker for more than 200m. The train later stopped with a huge sound. The railway and forest staff rushed to the spot.
Six elephants, including the one that died today, have fallen casualty on train tracks in the same area in the last two months and 37 elephants have died of train collisions between Alipurduar and Siliguri since February 2002.
Today, when forest officials went to the site of the accident they found portions of the animal’s tusks were gone. They then carried out a thorough search in the train with the help of the RPF and arrested Ramendra Sinha of Karimgunj, Assam, who had the portions of the tusks in his possession.
Railway officials today said they would impose the 50kmph-speed restriction throughout Buxa Tiger Reserve round the clock immediately after they receive a written proposal from forest officials. A 30km track in this section runs through the BTR.
D. Lakra, the additional divisional railway manager of Alipurduar, said: “The incident is very unfortunate and it occurred out of our speed restriction period because our speed restriction is from 6pm to 6am. As soon as we receive proposals from the BTR officials in writing we will impose the speed restriction throughout BTR round the clock.”
Lakra added that the train was coming at a speed of almost 90kmph and the driver had told him that the elephant suddenly appeared in front of the train.
A departmental enquiry has been initiated and a medical examination of the driver has also been conducted.
Villagers of Rajabhatkhawa in protest did not allow the officials to take away body of the elephant from the tracks, keeping it blocked for six hours. Around 1.20pm, trains started running again.
R.P. Saini, the field director of the Buxa Tiger Reserve, said: “Last night, at 2.30am our staff along with the local people had sent this elephant inside the forest. The jumbo has been roaming around Damanpur, about 7km from Alipurduar, for the last few days. We have been telling the railway officials but I don’t know whether the drivers of these trains are informed. We are writing to the railways to impose the 50kmph speed restriction throughout BTR round the clock.”
Hiten Barman the forest minister visited the spot today.