Elephant knocked down by train in Coimbatore

Third such tragedy to happen within 40 days in forests bordering TN and Kerala.

COIMBATORE: A female adult elephant was knocked down by the West Coast express heading to Chennai from Mangaluru near Walayar early on Friday, the third pachyderm to die so tragically within a span of just 40 days in the forests bordering Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Around 5.30 am, the speeding West Coast express hit the elephant, aged around 20, while it was crossing the track. “On impact, the elephant was thrown 15-ft away from the track. It battled for life for more than an hour before breathing its last. Forest department staff rushed to the spot, but could not save the animal,” said a forest department staff.

Wildlife activists blame the Railways for refusing to lower the speed of trains passing through elephant corridors. Trains should maintain a speed of not more than 30 Kmph for a distance of around five-km between Madukkarai and Walayar.

On 20 June, the speedy Bangaluru — Kochuveli Express, hit a 20-year-old female elephant. Poignant moments had prevailed as its calf refused to move away and stood grieving over its dead mother for several hours.

Tragedy struck again on July 9, when a 10-year-old tusker was knocked down by another speeding train bound for Vishakhapatnam from Kollam, near Chandrapuram in Walayar forest.

An official from the operations department in Palakkad division earlier said that the Railways do not have any plans to reduce the speed of trains. “Trains ply at a speed of 45 kmph in the above mentioned corridor as per the instructions given by the Railway Board. So there is no possibility to bring down the speed further,” he said.

However, a proposal has been sent for erecting heavy metal fencing along the railway track for a distance about 25-km between Madukkarai and Sullikaadu. The Palakkad division Railway PRO M.K. Gopinath said that the railways have been conducting routine inspections to avoid train hits.

“Awareness is created among passengers not to throw food items in the forest area along the track as it attracts animals,” he said. “Though these measures are yielding results, a permanent solution can be found only if an elephant crossing corridor is built, metal fencing on both sides of the track erected and subways constructed. These projects require huge funding and can be taken up only through private sponsorship,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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