What’s causing Elephant deaths on rail tracks? CAG’s scathing report enlists reasons

The audit analysis of identified passages and elephant deaths on rail track revealed that more elephant casualties were reported in those locations which were identified as elephant passages.

elephants, rail tracks
A total of 37 deaths occurred in the identified passages as well as 24 elephant deaths occurred in the un-identified passages.

Indian Railways and forest departments did not give priority to construction of underpass and overpass across several tracks facilitating the movement of elephants, leading to casualties, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has stated in a report tabled in Lok Sabha. The CAG said the audit, which was carried out during the period 2018-19, observed that precautionary measures such as restriction of speed were not being enforced in the notified elephant passages. The audit report of the CAG was tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday, a PTI report said. It further mentioned that audit analysis of identified passages and elephant deaths on rail track revealed that more elephant casualties were reported in those locations which were identified as elephant passages.

The report mentioned that a total of 37 deaths occurred in the identified passages as well as 24 elephant deaths occurred in the un-identified passages. According to the audit report, there was no uniformity in dimension, colour, height as well as the content of the elephant signage boards in Indian Railways. Also, they were placed in an incorrect position defeating their purpose of forewarning the drivers. In some of the Zonal Railways, honey bee sound devices were not installed. During 2016-17 to 2018-19, train collisions resulted in 61 elephant deaths, the report said.

The report consists of audit findings that are related to compliance issues in respect of the Railway Ministry and its various field units. The audit findings are related to deficiencies and irregularities that were noticed during the course of the audit over the Indian Railways network during the financial year 2018-19. A committee of senior officials of the Railway Ministry and Environment and Forest Ministry (government of India, and state governments of West Bengal and Odisha) was constituted in January 2013 to create an action plan for eliminating instances of elephant deaths due to train hits, the CAG said. Short-term and long-term measures were recommended by the committee to prevent train-elephant collisions.

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