The Telegraph
Saturday , March 1 , 2014
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Jorhat MLA wants tracks shifted from Gibbon

Jorhat, Feb. 28: Mariani MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi today joined the green brigade and demanded that the railway tracks passing through the Gibbon wildlife sanctuary near the Assam-Nagaland border here and its adjacent areas should be shifted immediately.

“The railways and the forest departments have taken various measures in the last few years to save the animals, especially the elephants, from being hit by train but nothing seems to have worked out. The only option left to save the animals of the sanctuary is by shifting the railway tracks to a separate location,” Kurmi told The Telegraph today.

Kurmi said he already consulted the forest department and would hold a meeting with the railway officials soon.

His decision to demand shifting of the tracks comes in the wake of the death of two elephants, which died after being hit by a local train near the sanctuary yesterday.

Since 2010, six elephants have died in the same manner along the 1.5km stretch track. There are also reports of frequent deaths of deer and monkeys in the areas because of train hits.

The particular stretch of the railway tracks has not only turned into a death trap for the animals of the sanctuary but has also separated the gibbon population of the sanctuary.

Since gibbons are arboreal and move by swinging from one branch to another, a small group of gibbons got separated when the tracks were laid through the particular area.

In fact, the railways, following a suggestion from the forest department, was planning to construct a unique bridge connecting the two forests above the tracks.

Mariani forest range officer D. Medhi, under whose jurisdiction the sanctuary falls, said it was the need of the hour to shift the tracks to another location for the safety of the animals, particularly the elephants. The 20.98 square km sanctuary has about 40 elephants.

“Such a decision has to be taken at the highest level,” he said.

Regarding yesterday’s incident, Medhi said the mishap took place in an area, which is about 3km from the sanctuary and has thick forest growth along the tracks. “The locomotive driver failed to notice the herd of elephants because of the thick forest cover resulting in the incident,” he said.

Medhi said the forest department had already asked the railways to clear the particular area to make visibility better.

According to the rules, locomotive drivers maintain a particular speed while passing through the stretch to avoid running over animals from the sanctuary.

A few organisations involved in wildlife conservation, have been demanding shifting the tracks from the area since long for the safety of the animals.