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Trees along Dooars tracks to be removed

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 11.06.12
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Workers remove an uprooted tree from the railway tracks near Buxa Tiger Reserve on the Siliguri Junction-Alipurduar route.
Picture by Anirban Choudhury

Alipurduar, June 10: The railways have decided to saw off trees along the 167km-long tracks in the Dooars after two trains had back-to-back narrow escapes when trees fell on the line during a storm.

Officials said most of the 120 trees that would be removed between Siliguri Junction and Alipurduar were on railway land.

“Eighty per cent of the trees (that will be felled) are on railway land and we have decided to cut them to avoid accidents. We have conducted a survey between New Mal and Siliguri stations and it was found that almost 120 trees should be sawed off. A survey is being conducted on the remaining stretch between New Mal and Alipurduar Junction. We have requested the forest officers to give us the NOC to cut off the trees,” said Indrajit Singh, the additional divisional railway manager, Alipurduar.

According to the West Bengal Trees (protection and conservation in non-forest areas) Act, 2006, one has to seek permission from the forest department to fell trees.

Singh said the railways would start sawing off the trees after the survey between New Mal and Alipurduar Junction was completed and the no-objection certificate (NOC) was granted.

The 167km-stretch passes through Mahananda wildlife sanctuary, Gorumara National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Chapramari forest, wildlife III and Jalpaiguri forest division.

“On May 3, five compartments and the engine of an Alipurduar Junction-bound train derailed when the train hit a tree that had fallen on the tracks after a storm. Some passengers were injured and train service on the Alipurduar Junction-Siliguri section was disrupted for 24 hours. The next day, an accident was avoided when the driver of a goods train stopped the train after seeing uprooted trees on the tracks between Alipurduar Junction and Rajabhatkhawa. After these incidents, we are worried about the safety of the passengers,” Singh said.

He added that trees that were very tall and could get uprooted easily during a storm would be sawed off.

“We are serious about the safety of passengers. We will give the NOC to the railways to cut the trees on their land,” said forest minister Hiten Barman.