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‘Find ways to avoid animal deaths’

This comes after reports of the death of seven pachyderms after a speeding goods train hit them while they were crossing the tracks near Binnaguri in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

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Priya Iyengar

Updated: Sep 28, 2010, 12:51 AM IST

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City animal activists are calling for establishing an action plan to prevent deaths of animals in train accidents.

This comes after reports of the death of seven pachyderms after a speeding goods train hit them while they were crossing the tracks near Binnaguri in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has written to the Railway ministry and the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), urging them to set up an empowered committee to develop a plan with representation from the ministry of railways, ministry of surface transport, the MoEF, the Wildlife Institute of India and NGOs.

“FIAPO has been inundated with calls from their members who are shocked after learning about the accident last week. This site in Jalpaiguri is a designated jumbo corridor where railway drivers are required to provide safe crossing to the elephants,” said Dr S Chinny Krishna, FIAPO chairman.

Since 1987, speeding trains have killed 150 elephants in India. The Asian Elephants are on the endangered species’ list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  In its letter addressed to Mamata Banerjee, the organisation has suggested several steps that can be enforced to prevent such incidents.

“Reduction of train speed to 20km/hr through the forest, altering the timings of certain trains running in the evening and night, clearing bushes and removing blockages at the turnings so that the driver could get a clear view of the tracks will go a long way in preventing such deaths,” he said.

Krishna added: “There is urgent need to restore elephant corridor that do not have railway tracks. With the elephant being declared a heritage animal, protection and conservation of elephants should be given equal weightage as tigers.”

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