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One wild elephant dashed against 15603 Guwahati – Ledo Intercity Express between Patharkhola and Lumding (between Km 185.1 to 185.2) at around 01.10 am last night damaging the engine. The impact had thrown the elephant along a slope o­n to the adjacent railway line. Later, it was confirmed by Forest Department that the elephant had died. The area where this unfortunate incident took place is between two known areas, where elephant movement were detected earlier and drivers were issued Permanent Caution Orders, and is about 5 km and 3 km away respectively from each of these pre-identified spots.

There is Permanent Caution Order for drivers to look-out for elephants at km 180.4 to km 180.8 (400 metres) before reaching Patharkhola and between km 188.2 to 188.4 (200 metres) after crossing Patharkhola. The accident happened at a place which is located between these two spots and where there was no Permanent Caution Order.

It may be mentioned that alert train drivers had saved elephants from meeting with accidents in 115 cases during the year 2018 o­nly by controlling the train o­n noticing movement of elephant herd near or over railway track. The figure of such cases when elephant was saved by driver stopping the train was 119 during 2017. While it was 145 and 118 during the year 2016 and 2015, in the current year till date there are 6 incidents where drivers had to stop train to give path to herd of elephant crossing railway track.

N.F. Railway has taken various initiatives to avoid train-elephant collision. Some of them are like installation of Laser Speed Radar Gun to detect over speeding cases in elephant zones. All train drivers and trackman have been counselled to observe all permanent and temporary speed restrictions. Fixing of buzzer with Honey Bee sound at Level crossing gates of vulnerable locations had proved to effective method for chasing away elephants.

Staff of pantry car as well as train passenger is being sensitized not to throw any eatable / leftover o­n or near the railway track so that elephants or any other animals don’t get lured to the track. Signage Boards have been provided at all identified elephant corridors to pre-warn driver at the locations decided by Forest Department. Clearance of vegetation o­n both sides of railway track is being done o­n regular basis to improve visibility of drivers. Moreover constructions of ramps, passage, underpass, overpass and fencings at various vulnerable locations have also been done and under way to avoid elephant casualty.

(Pranav Jyoti Sharma)

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