Guwahati: At least six elephants were killed after being hit by a speeding train in Assam’s Sonitpur district early on Sunday, officials said.
Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) officials said that the incident happened at 135 km marker between Balipara and Dhalaibeel stations. “The notified elephant corridors are at km 131 and km 144. So the accident happened at a non-notified area,” an official said.
Locals said that the incident took place around 1.30 am when a herd of about 30 elephants tried to cross a railway track by breaking down the barrier at a level crossing as the Guwahati-Naharlagun Express was approaching.
“By that time, the train was already in the section and it was impossible to stop it,” the official said.
Following the incident, the Rangiya division of the NFR has imposed a speed restriction of 30 kmph in the area.
Two elephants were killed after being hit by speeding train near Thakurkuchi railwat station located close to Guwahati on November 19. A herd of elephants came out from the nearby jungle in search of food and the incident took place when they tried to cross over the railway tracks in the area.
The Assam Environmental NGOs Forum has expressed profound grief at the incident and lamented the lack of foresightedness while planning development activities.
“It is a shame for a state like Assam where 40 elephants have died unnaturally in the last 100 days,” said Bibhab Talukdar of wildlife NGO Aaranyak.
Several wildlife NGOs also demanded immediate intervention of the Assam government to stop such tragedy on tracks and requested the Assam Forest Department and the NF Railways to light up the tracks like highways and install warning systems and enforce speed limits immediately.
They also requested to keep the open areas on both sides of the tracks free of grass so that elephants do not come to feed near the tracks.
The Forum has also expressed its apprehension that such incidents will bring disrepute to Assam and its rich natural heritage and traditions.