* Forest department seizes locomotive for mowing down a female elephant and her calf
GUWAHATI: What can be termed as an unprecedented move to save elephants, the State Forest department on Tuesday seized the engine of a goods train for killing a female elephant and her one-year-old calf.
On the night of September 26, 2020 a female elephant and her one-year-old male calf died after being mowed down by a speeding goods train at Lumding in Hojai district. The incident took place near Pathorkhola railway station under Lumding Railway Division in Hojai district when the train hit the elephants crossing the track.
The impact of the accident was so horrific that the elephant calf was dragged along for about a kilometre before the train finally came to a halt. Locals blamed railway authorities for the accident.
Divisional Forest Officer at Lumding, Pulak Choudhury told The Sentinel that since the area (where the incident took place) falls under the elephant corridor, the station manager of Lumding railway station was alerted earlier to restrict the speed limit of trains to 40 kms per hour to avert tragic incidents like mowing down of elephants . But there were reports that the particular goods train was running in the speed of 60 kms per hour, he said.
"Immediately after the September 26 incident, we filed an FIR with the State police against the NF Railway. The State police had handed over the case to the Government Railway Police (GRP). We also instituted an inquiry under the Wildlife Protection Act. Even though the Railway authorities initially denied that the goods train was running at the speed of 60 kms per hour, they later suspended the loco pilot, assistant loco pilot and another staff of the train. The action of the Railways shows that they have confessed their guilt," said Choudhury.
After the goods train was brought to the New Guwahati Diesel Locomotive Shed at Bamunimaidam from Alipurduar on Tuesday, the Forest department seized the engine. The Forest department later kept the engine in the custody of the Railway authorities.
Choudhury said that his department's action is a warning to the Railways to ensure that the speed limit of trains is restricted in areas that fall under the elephants' corridors.
On January 24, 2020, a female elephant along with a calf was killed by a speeding train at the same place. On April, 2019, a pachyderm was killed by a train near the Lumding railway station. The incident happened when the pachyderm was crossing the track along with a herd of 10 elephants.
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