Elephant deaths on tracks: State-railways spar worries forest ministry

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Kolkata, Nov 15: The Union forest and environment ministry on Thursday expressed its dissatisfaction over the continuing blame game between the railways and the West Bengal state forest department for the endless deaths of elephants on railway tracks in North Bengal.

Seven elephants were killed after being hit by a speeding passenger train in Chapramari forest in Jalpaiguri on Wednesday. With this, the number of elephants killed in train hit this year has touched 18. The forest department has expressed serious concern over the continuing deaths of the animals and has accused the railways for not abiding by speed guidelines.

A top official of the forest ministry will visit the accident spot on Friday

In an emergency meeting convened by the Union forest ministry officials, it was decided that a top officials will visit the spot of Wednesday's accident on Friday and take up the issue with the forest and railway officials. Sources said he will also speak to the people of the villages where such accidents are taking place and try to find out a permanent solution to the problem.

Animal experts, however, feel that as long as trains run on the route through the forest in high speed, there is little hope of the problem finding a solution. Questions have also been raised about setting up a railway route between Sebok near Siliguri and Rongpo in Sikkim, the foundation stone of which was laid four years ago. The forest ministry has reportedly requested the prime minister's office to consider the laying of a railway route through the Mahananda National Park on grounds of elephants' safety.

Meanwhile, a complaint was lodged by the forest department against the driver of Kabiguru Express which mowed down the elephants on Wednesday.

OneIndia News

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