| The railway siding between Biswali and Byree station. Telegraph picture |
Cuttack, Jan. 1: The Wildlife Society of Odisha has expressed concern over the threat posed to elephants of the Kapilas Wildlife Sanctuary by a 4-km long railway siding that connects a cement factory at Biswali with Byree railway station.
Had the threat factor not been properly addressed more jumbos might get killed, the society warned.
Odisha Cement Ltd had set up Kapilas Cement Works at Biswali contiguous to the forest under the Cuttack forest division. In 2008, the railway siding was built by cutting a trench, which is five to 15 metres deep.
The trench has allegedly cut off the movement path of elephants (the only crossing route actively used by them) and other animals as there are no slopes to allow them to cross.
The society had pointed out the threat in terms of the rail line by way of a complaint to the chief wildlife warden and the principal chief conservator of forests in October. It had also sought immediate action to reverse the impact on local elephants to prevent man-elephant conflict in the area.
“But, the forest department has not yet taken any action to stop railway movement on this line. We fear more elephants will be killed by trains if this is not addressed by constructing slopes to allow the jumbos to cross over the rail line, which runs in a deep trench,” said secretary of the society Biswajit Mohanty.
According to the society, some portions of the railway siding that connects the factory with Byree station passes through the Dalijora forest. The 20 to 25 metres wide trench has two cemented open drains on both sides of the siding. Each drain is about 0.75 metres broad.
“The structure is dangerous for wildlife as they can fall inside it while moving across the area at night. Even the non-forest area through which the siding passes affects wildlife significantly as it lies on the edge of the Dalijora forest. Animals emerging from Dalijora cannot cross the siding in search of food or water,” Mohanty said.
“As all water sources lie across the siding, the effect has already been felt by way of wildlife entering Byree and Amiyajhari villages to quench their thirst,” Mohanty said.
“Last year, local villagers rescued more than six injured deer. Lack of gentle-sloping crossing paths on the railway siding is preventing wild animals, cattle and even the villagers from crossing the siding,” he said.
The society further expressed concern over operation of the railway siding at nigh. “As movement of wildlife is more at night, train movement should be permitted only during the day and the speed limit should be less than 20km per hour,” he said.