GUWAHATI: 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. The 1st prize comprise of a citation along with a cash award of Rs. 3 lakh.
With a large portion of its track passing through vast areas of forest land which are home to various wild animals, including elephants, NFR has been facing the serious problem of elephant dashing, posing a threat both to trains and to the elephant population in the vicinity of tracks. Although there are as many as 29 earmarked corridors where trains slow down and signs are fixed for drivers to observe the speed restrictions, elephants have ventured into the path of trains even in non-corridor areas, often leading to accidents resulting in elephant deaths. 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 also.
Rangiya division field officers, in consultation with Forest Department counterparts, worked on the idea of using certain deterrents to repel elephants from the tracks. Then Divisional Railway Manager Ravilesh Kumar took the lead to form a team comprising Santosh Kr. Sharma, Addl. Divisional Railway Manager; Sr. Divisional Engineer/III Sitesh Das; Sr Divisional Safety Officer Suresh Prasad; Shri Avdesh Verma, Divisional Engineer/Rangiya; R.K. Dhaka, Divisional Engineer/Rangiya and Pinku, Asst. Divisional Engineer/Rangiya who carried out the first testing of honey bee buzz on a pet elephant at Rangapara. When the second testing was conducted in Phulbari Tea Estate under Rangiya Division, it was found that the wild elephant started moving away once the honey bee sound was generated.
Following the successful trial, an equipment was designed to generate amplified sound of honey bee audible from a distance of about 700-800 metres. The first instrument was installed at level crossing gate NN-274 between Azara and Kamakhya station under Rangiya Division. Finding the results very encouraging the instrument was installed in many level crossing gates in the zone located in the vicinity of forest areas. At present 46-such equipments have been installed all over NFR.