Fence stood between death and safety

Poachers & barbed wire kill animals in state

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 12.02.18
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The barbed wire fence at Hawaipur in Hojai district

Guwahati: A barbed wire fence has probably resulted in the death of elephants at Hawaipur railway station under Lumding division on Saturday night.

Four elephants died when they were trapped between the fence and the tracks while the condition of the fifth one has been reported to be serious when 15611 Guwahati-Silchar fast passenger train hit the elephants. This issue figured in the meeting between forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma and officials of NF Railway in Hojai on Sunday.

The elephants wanted to cross the track but got trapped in the fence which resulted in their death.

"The barbed wire fence was put up as track doubling work is going on," a source said, adding that in the meeting, the railways have been asked to remove the fence in construction sites at Hawaipur station.

An NF Railway official said barbed wire fence has to be put up wherever track doubling work is on. The meeting decided that there would be a joint inquiry by the forest department and NF Railways.

The source said cases of elephants dashing against trains in areas where they constantly cross tracks would greatly increase now wherever track doubling work is on. He said this also proves that there has been no joint patrolling between the forest and the railways or else the forest department would have known about the fence.

Though the NF Railways says the incident took place at a location where there was no notified elephant corridor, the forest department has already given them a list of 19 locations in three forest ranges where elephants often move on the tracks. Hawaipur is one of the places which has been mentioned by the forest department in the list.

"The 19 locations were decided at a meeting in December 21 in Lumding," a forest official said.

The NF Railways, in a statement, said based on inputs received from the forest department a speed restriction of 30kmph had been imposed and all trains were instructed to slow down while passing by issuing caution order to the loco pilots. "While prima facie inquiry has revealed that the train was within its stipulated speed, a departmental inquiry has been ordered to find out details about adherence to protocols," it said.