Railways to sensitise people against dropping food on tracks to prevent jumbo deaths

Chennai: The Southern Railway has decided to sensitise people and create awareness among commuters to not drop food leftovers and garbage on rail tracks, for the safety of elephants

A study conducted by Kerala’s retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, K. Harikumar, has shown that elephants and other wild animals get attracted to the railway tracks by the smell of food leftovers dropped by the passengers.

Several NGOs in Coimbatore and Podannur area had already complained to the Railways about elephants getting killed by speeding trains near Tamil Nadu’s Madhukkarai.

These NGOs, which study wildlife, have found that one of the reasons for the elephants and other wild animals getting hit by speeding trains is the smell of food leftovers dumped by commuters, that attract them to the tracks. They have, therefore, recommended the Railways to create awareness among passengers on this.

K. Kalidas of Osai Environmental Organisation, which studies wildlife, told IANS: “Passengers are knowingly or unknowingly throwing away food waste and garbage on the railway tracks and it is rampant between Palakkad and Podanur where the Madukkarai area falls. Several elephants and other wild animals got killed by speeding trains and lost their lives due to this and we found that most of the wild animals are reaching the tracks at the smell of food waste.”

However, noting that passengers are compelled to throw their waste itmes on the rail track, as dustbins in the train compartments are often overflowing, he said that the Railways must build specific points in railway stations for waste disposal and ensure that there are proper bins in every train compartment.

Elephants are spotted in the reserve forest area in a two-km stretch of track A and a three km stretch of track B.

Railway officials said that the number of staff deployed to clear the track during the day and at night will also be increased to prevent elephants and other wild animals from reaching the track.

In November 2021, three elephants including a calf, had lost their lives after being run over by a speeding Mangalore-Chennai mail train.

An arguments had erupted between the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and the Railway officials in Palakkad over this issue and the forest officials were even gheraoed by the Railway staff.

A senior Railway official said that announcements are being made now at Palakkad railway station to educate people not to throw waste in forest area as it could attract wild animals including elephants to the track thereby endangering their lives.

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