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News Entry# 160351
Dec 14 2013 (08:02) SC orders trains to slow down in dense forests (
Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 160351   
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NEW DELHI: To minimize fatality of elephants and other wild animals due to train hits, the Supreme Court has ordered the railway ministry to slow down all trains when they travel on 1,600 km of track, which passes through reserve forests.So, if you are a nature lover, then you would not complain at all. A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri ordered: "Necessary steps should be taken by the railways all over the country to reduce the speed limit of running trains that are passing through dense forests."This order came on a petition filed by Shakti Prasad Nayak, who through advocate Sanjeeb Panigrahi had provided year-wise data of elephant mortality on railway tracks, and had sought remedial measures immediately after the January 5 incident when a herd of elephants were mowed down by a train.The bench said the reduced speed limit had to be observed scrupulously. "In...
case a speed limit is not followed, appropriate action should be taken against the erring drivers and officials concerned," the bench ordered the railway ministry.
Finding that the railway line between Siliguri and Alipurduar had been the death trap for the elephants as it passed right across the elephant corridor, the bench agreed with Mamata Banerjee government's suggestion and ordered the railway ministry to 'discontinue movement of goods trains at night" on this track.
It also agreed with WB's suggestion for diversion of fast moving and night trains through Siliguri-Falakata route." The ministry had informed the court that 77 cases of elephant deaths by train hits had been reported since 2007 and also about the remedial measures, including development of a wireless animal tracking system, it was contemplating.
But, Justices Radhakrishnan and Sikri also took a serious view of the absence counsel for various states, which had reported death of elephants on railway track. "We make it clear that non-representation of the states on the future dates will be viewed seriously," the bench warned.
"Considering the importance of the matter and in order to examine the steps taken in the state of West Bengal and all over the country, we direct the personal presence of the Secretary, ministry of environment and forest (moef), and one senior official of the railway, equivalent to the rank of Secretary, who are well conversant with these matters, in this court on January 21, 2014," it said.
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