Madras High Court judges assess measures taken to prevent elephant deaths on railway tracks – The Hindu

Chennai News

Three judges of the Madras High Court on Sunday inspected the railway lines that pass through Madukkarai forest range areas to assess the measures taken by the Railways and the Forest Department to avert elephant deaths.

Justices N. Sathish Kumar, R. Subramanian and G.K. Ilanthiraiyan inspected the lines between Walayar and Ettimadai railway stations.

They travelled to Walayar station on the A line from Ettiamdai. The judges inspected the B line between Walayar and Ettimadai while returning to Coimbatore junction.

The judges inspected solar lights installed on the sides of the track by the Southern Railway, locations where elephants were mowed down by trains, proposed site for hanging solar fencing by the Railways, honeybee alarm system, bush clearance work on the sides of tracks, existing ramps across tracks for elephant crossing, sites for the construction of watch tower by the Forest Department and underpasses by the Railways.

A tusker crossing a concrete structure at a railway track near Coonoor. File
| Photo Credit: M. SATHYAMOORTHY

A and B lines run 1.78 km and 2 km through Solakarai beat of Madukkarai forest range of Coimbatore Forest Division. According to the Forest Department, the area is close to the interstate border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Elephants migrate from Kerala to Tamil Nadu and vice versa very often as Solakarai forest beat is located in elephant migratory route. 

The Department said in a note issued in view of the judges’ visit that the habitat of the elephants and other wild animals got fragmented as the railway tracks passed through the reserved forest. As the result, elephants had to climb over and cross the railway tracks to move from one place to another inside their habitat, sometimes leading to collision by moving trains. A total of 11 elephants were killed in six major accidents since 2008. Out of these, all except one occurred outside the forest. Apart from elephants, incidents of small mammals getting hit on the railway tracks had also been reported, it said.  

Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests, the Special Secretary (Forests) Supriya Sahu, Coimbatore District Collector G.S. Sameeran, Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran, Special Government Pleaders T. Seenivasan, A. Selvendran, Government advocate from Madras High Court Mohammed Sathik, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Syed Muzammil Abbas, Conservator of Forests S. Ramasubramanian and Coimbatore District Forest Officer T.K. Ashok Kumar accompanied the judges who also inspected plastic collection activities at the border of Coimbatore and the Nilgiris districts.