The system developed by N.F. Railway to keep wild elephants away from crossing the railway track by playing the amplified sound of buzzing of honey bees has won the best innovation award in Indian Railways for the year 2018-19. The 1st prize comprise of a citation along with a cash award of Rs. 3 lakhs.
With a large portion of its track passing through vast areas of forest land which are home to various wild animals including elephants; NFR has been facing the serious problem of elephant dashing, posing a threat both to the trains and to the elephant population in the vicinity of tracks. Although there are as many as 29 earmarked corridors where trains slow down and signs are fixed for drivers to observe the speed restrictions, elephants have ventured into the path of trains even in non corridor areas, often leading to accidents resulting in elephant deaths. From 2013 upto June 2019; a total of 67 elephants were knocked down in train – elephant dashing. While Elephant population in Assam itself is about 5620, there are few thousands in Dooars area of North Bengal also.
Desperate to find a way to tackle the problem, Rangiya division field officers in consultation with Forest Department counter parts, worked on the idea os using certain deterrents to repel elephants from the tracks. The then Divisional Railway Manager, Shri Ravilesh Kumar took the lead to form a team comprising Shri Santosh Kr. Sharma, Addl.Divisional Railway Manager, Sr. Divisional Engineer/III Shri Sitesh Das, Sr. Divisional Safety Officer Shri Suresh Prasad, Shri Avdesh Verma, Divisional Engineer/Rangiya, Shri R.K. Dhaka, Divisional Engineer/Rangiyaand Shri Pinku, Asst. Divisional Engineer/Rangiya who carried out the first testing of honey bee buzz on a pet elephant at Rangapara. When the second testing was conducted in Phulbari Tea Estate under Rangiya Division, it was found that the wild elephant starting moving away once the Honey Bee sound was generated.
Following the successful trial, an equipment was designed to generate amplified sound of Honey Bee audible from a distance of about 700-800 mts. The first instrument was installed at level crossing gate NN-274 between Azara and Kamakhya station under Rangiya Division. Finding the results very encouraging the instrument was installed in many level crossing gates in the zone located in the vicinity of forest areas. Presently 46 such equipments have been installed all over NFR.
The gateman posted in level crossing gate where the device has been installed claim that its use is very helpful to divert herds of elephants, especially when trains are approaching and dashing become almost eminent.
It is to be mentioned that through this and a mix of other measure, NFR has been able to save as many as 1014 elephants since 2014 till June 2019, which itself is a commendable achievement.