Alipurduar, March 18: An expert team from the Union ministry of environment and forests visited Buxa Tiger Reserve for the first time today and suggested measures to reduce the number of elephant deaths on tracks on the Alipurduar Junction-Siliguri route.
The three-member team of elephant expert Raman Sukumar, S.B. Mandal, the chief wildlife warden of the state and Shyam Bhagat Negi from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, New Delhi, will submit a report to the ministry.
“The solution of the problem can be divided in two parts. One is short-term and the other is long-term. In case of a short-term solution, an important point is an early alarm system. A train driver will be able to know if an elephant herd is close to the tracks and check the speed. The number of night trains in the section has to be reduced. After a double line is laid via Falakata, trains can be routed through that route,” Sukumar said.
This way trains can avoid parts of Buxa, Chaprami, Mahananda, Gorumara and Jaldapara forests and Jalpaiguri forest division.
“There are different kinds of electronic systems like power censors (fitted to the tracks and the train engine) with which a train driver will get to know if a herd is close to the tracks from a distance of 2-3km. We have to prepare a long-term solution for the next 10-15 years. Speed restriction is also very important,” Sukumar added.
Mandal said bushes along 30m on both sides of the railway tracks have to be cleared to improve the visibility for train drivers.
“We have identified nine spots in the section for pillar (elevated) tracks for around 27km. We will compile a report with proposals that will be submitted to the ministry of environment and forest,” he said.
This year, six elephants have been killed by speeding trains in the section.
On January 5, five elephants died in BTR after they were hit by the Guwahati-bound Jhajha Express.
On March 5, the Guwahati-bound Sampark Kranti Express mowed down a tusker in the forest.
“We have started announcements in the stations asking people not to throw eatables on tracks as it can attract elephants. We are going to distribute leaflets to the passengers to spread awareness,” DRM Kumar said.