Death of elephants on Southern Railway tracks: NGT directs MoEF's committee to look into issue

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal Friday directed the Central Monitoring Committee constituted by the Environment Ministry dealing with the project 'Elephant' to look into death of mammals taking place on railway track from Kottekad in Kerala and Madukkarai in Tamil Nadu.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said a joint meeting needs to be held on the subject by the Central Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) with the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Southern Railways within one month from today.

“The Central Monitoring Committee constituted by Ministry of Environment and Forests dealing with the project 'Elephant' needs to look into the issue raised in the media report in coordination with the Railway Authorities, the Wildlife Institute of India and the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “A joint meeting needs to be held on the subject by the Central Monitoring Committee of the MoEF with the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Southern Railways within one month from today to work out the necessary modalities, including the authority which is to incur the necessary expenditure,” the bench also comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal said.

The tribunal passed the order after perusing the status report filed by State of Tamil Nadu which said that reasons for death is visibility on the track being poor to the loco pilots and topography being unsuitable for the elephants to escape. “The remedial action taken is deputing Track watchers/ Anti-depredation watchers, construction of ramps and alerting of the pilots by the watchers. Watch tower has been constructed for the purpose. A percolation pond has been formed for providing water for the animals to minimise the movement. “A Whatsapp group has been created of the concerned staff of the Railways and the Forest Department. Forest Department also wrote to the Divisional Railway Manager for precautions to be taken in operation of trains at night and the Divisional Railway Manager has given a reply on the issue,” the status report said.

The Railways told the NGT that an inter-ministerial meeting was held between the Railways and MoEF on and steps were to be taken for construction of under bridges, fencing and widening cuttings and side drains but the MoEF failed to make the payment and said step could not be taken.

The NGT has taken cognisance of a media report which said that death of elephants is taking place on a railway track from Kottekad and Madukkarai. In all, seven elephants have been killed as per the media report between 10:00 pm to 06:00 am on being hit by the trains on 'B' line and one elephant was killed on 'A' line of the map given in the media report. ' A' line runs through reserve forest for 17 km between Chullimada-Madukkarai stations and 'B' line passes through reserve forest for 23 km between Madukkarai- Kanjikode stations. PTI PKS RKS RKS

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