Hyderabad: While the clamor grows for 'death penalty’ against Kerala elephant killers, official data accessed by NewsMeter has revealed that more than 60 tuskers were mowed down by trains across India in the last three years.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, 19 elephants were crushed under trains in 2018-19. Nearly 20 jumbos were killed by trains in 2017-18. Around 21 elephant deaths were reported in 2016-17.
Of the 19 elephant deaths last year, seven were reported from Odisha and six from West Bengal. Assam and Karnataka reported two elephant deaths each. Uttarakhand and Kerala reported one death each.
A writ petition was filed by Shakti Prasad Nayak in the Supreme Court in 2013 regarding the elephant deaths on the tracks. The top court later asked the Indian railways to take necessary steps to reduce the speed limit of running trains passing through dense forests.
In case the speed limit is not followed, appropriate action should be taken against the erring drivers and officials concerned, the apex court said.
Indian railways claim that several measures have been put in place to avoid such accidents. Ministry of Railways informed the parliament that provision of signage board to warn loco pilots about identified elephant corridors has been installed.
Construction of underpasses and ramps for the movement of elephants at identified locations is underway. Work is in progress at one more location in East Central Railway. Also, they have installed the Honey Bee sound system to scare away the elephants from coming near the track.
Did you Know?
Financial and technical assistance is provided to the elephant range states under ‘Project Elephant’, to protect tuskers, their habitat, and corridors. Funds are also allotted to address man-elephant conflict and for the welfare of captive elephants.
The Centrally Sponsered Scheme has also a component for ex-gratia relief in case of human death/injury and property/crop loss.
The welfare of captive jumbos is one of the major objectives of ‘Project Elephant’ wherein financial and technical assistance is provided to the States.
The Ministry has also constituted Captive Elephant Healthcare and Welfare Committee (CEHWC) to look into the issues related to healthcare, welfare and management of captive elephants.
Further, establishment, operation, and maintenance of animal rescue center and veterinary treatment facilities for wild animals are permissible activities under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules, 2018.