A wild elephant was hit by a moving train while it was crossing a railway track that lies between Banarhat and Nagrakata rail line of West Bengal on Friday morning. The 75741 SGUJ-DBB Siliguri-Dhubri Intercity-Express was on its way to New Jalpaiguri railway junction when it hit the jumbo, the hit left the animal severely injured.
The 45-second-long video that was widely shared on social media platforms has left people in a state of shock. It showed the critically injured elephant trying hard to drag itself out of the railway track, as people watch in helplessness, after being hit by the engine of the intercity express.
The Banarhat-Nagrakata route runs right through the heart of Dooars, across several elephant corridors, and on its way, has killed or left injured many wild animals since its first run.
I know you will find it painful & schocking. But such things are happening & require our attention. FD team reached location on time, provided medical help also. We don't know much about internal injury. A team stayed near him in night. Video to ponder. pic.twitter.com/DNZUzNfjN2— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) September 28, 2019
The frequent accidents have had forest officials and railways try and come up with solutions. Railways had limited the speed of the trains to 25 kmph inside the forest areas in 2015-2016. From 2015 to 2016, the number of elephant deaths and injuries in the area coming down, it was then raised to 50 kmph during the day.
Despite repeated attempts by the railway authorities with frequent checks and restrictions on speed limits inside the forest area, the train route has been vulnerable to train-elephant collision over the years and is still reported very often.
CV Raman, Alipurduar divisional railway manager of the Northern Frontier Railways, said in July 2018 after an accident, “We have imposed a 24-hour speed restriction along a 15km stretch between Chalsa and Banarhat stations in the Dooars. For 10 kms, trains will run at a speed of 30 kmph from 5pm to 5am, while along the remaining 5-km stretch, the trains will run at a speed of 30 kmph for 24 hours.”
Tragic! With best efforts by Loco Pilot, the injury was minimized but couldn't be avoided. The LP too got injured in the process. We are taking all possible measures in consultation with FD to avoid such occurrences. Let's pray for speedy recovery of the elephant.@ParveenKaswan pic.twitter.com/IVAZmAySSn— N. F. Railway (@RailNf) September 28, 2019
From 2013 up to June 2019, a total of 67 elephants were knocked down in train-elephant dashing. While elephant population in Assam itself is about 5,620, there are a few thousands in Dooars area of North Bengal as well.
A system developed by NF 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.