Railway and the Crisis

Speeding train inside the core forest
© Sangita Mitra/WWF-India
There have been reported mortalities of elephants and other animals in rail accidents all over India. Recent incidents in West Bengal, Assam and Uttaranchal had strengthened the necessity of adapting mitigation measures to minimize the loss of animal lives.

During 1988-2002 as many as 18 elephants were killed in train accidents on the 23 km railway stretch between Haridwar and Dehradun running through the Rajaji National Park, Uttaranchal. From 1990 to 2005 around 30 elephants died due to train hits in Different parts of Assam. This segment of railway track in West Bengal comes under the control of North East Frontier Railway (NFR) which is also responsible for the connecting track between Siliguri and Alipurduar . Of the total 120 km railtrack between Siliguri and Alipurduar, a stretch of 74 km intersects exclusively through different forests of Northern Bengal. The Metre gauge (MG) line between Siliguri to Alipurduar is an old one and it used to carry MG traffic from rest of India to North East in 70s and 80s. There is another existing broad gauge line in addition to the controversial Sliguri-Alipurduar track. Distance between the old BG track and the recently converted BG line varies from 5-30 km at different points. The BG station of New Jalpaiguri is 7km. away from the Siliguri station.

NFR runs through the greenest part of India and are not aware of the immense ecological services provided by these ecosystems here. Ironically Ecological services are available free of cost and have never been estimated. If evaluated in financial and scientific terms, it would surpass the benefit and profit of the railways. Over almost last one decade this killer track contributed to the death of nearly 30 elephants and many other animals. WWF-India has intervened time and often to give an insight to this issue and tried to minimize the problem with investigation, activities, campaigns and consultations. 
© WWF-India
Elephant crossing the rail track
© WWF-India
© WWF-India
© WWF-India
Movement route of elephants and newly converted broad gauge rail track passing through the forest areas of North Bengal
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