Call on international experts to curb elephant mortality: Hc judges | Coimbatore News

Coimbatore: Three Madras High Court judges, who on Sunday inspected the railway lines between Ettimadai and Walayar stations, have advised railway and forestry officials to seek international experts to prevent the death of elephants on the tracks.
Judges N Sathish Kumar, R Subramanian and GK Ilanthiraiyan inspected lines A and B on a locomotive at Podanur station.
The locomotive was stopped in Navakkarai, where three elephants were mowed down by a train in November. The judges inspected the solar lamps installed along the tracks. They also inspected the bee alarm system at Walayar Railway Station in Kerala, clearing works along the tracks, railings on the tracks at elephant crossing points and proposed sites to build watchtowers.
Judge Kumar then met another Divisional Director of Palakkad Division Railways R Raghuraman at Walayar Railway Station. The judge urged him to protect wild animals, especially elephants. “There are only 30,000 elephants in the country. More than 100 elephants die every year in Tamil Nadu. For the sake of our future generations, let’s make sure books aren’t the only places to find them. The Railways and Forestry Department should bring in experts from other countries to avoid the death of elephants on the tracks,” he said.
Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests, Special Secretary (Forests) Supriya Sahu discussed the possibility of reducing the speed of trains between Ettimadai and Walayar with railway officials.
But such a move could disrupt train schedules, Raghuraman said. “The trains run at a speed limit of 45 km/h between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 65 km/h during the day. Locomotive drivers would find it difficult to operate trains if the speed is less than 45 km/h. Yes, double locomotives can be used. But it will take at least 30 minutes each to attach a double locomotive to Walayar and detach it to Podanur,” he said.
More than 80 trains, including freight trains, pass through the stretch daily, said senior chief forest conservator MV Nagarathinam. “The railway may operate freight trains on the Podanur-Pollachi-Palakkad route to reduce traffic on track A.”
Diverting freight trains via the Pollachi route is impractical, Raghuraman said. “Freight trains are our bread and butter. Food grains, fertilizers and cement arrive in Kerala from the north. Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division and Palakkad Railway Division are powered by freight trains, which bring us 70% of the revenue. If we divert the trains by the Pollachi road, we have to travel another 50 km, and that is not possible.
When the judges suggested constructing an elevated railway corridor through the reserve’s forest, Raghuraman said it would cost 12 crores per kilometer and would take a long time. “Additionally, we need permission from the forest department to build such corridors,” he said.
The department is ready to grant permission, Nagarathinam replied.
The three judges, along with judges HC V Bharathidasan, R Pongiappan and M Dhandapani, earlier visited the Elephant Corridor on Mettupalayam-Coonoor Road. Coimbatore Collector GS Sameeran, Additional Advocate General J Ravindran, Government Special Advocates T Seenivasan and A Selvendran, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Syed Muzammil Abbas, Conservator of Forests S Ramasubramanian and officials from the forestry and railway departments accompanied the judges.

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