BENGALURU: With a leopard succumbing to death on the Karnataka-Goa border recently, wildlife activists have appealed to the Centre to take action on the rising number of wildlife deaths on rail tracks. Despite the Railway Ministry’s clear directions to take up mitigation measures, they say authorities have failed to take any action to prevent increasing rail kills in forest zones of Karnataka.
Till date in Karnataka, 15 gaurs, four elephants and a sloth bear have been killed on rail tracks within Belagavi and Uttara Kannada districts as also in Saklespur-Mangaluru line at Yedakumari. In fact, the rail link in Khanapur taluk of Belagavi district has seen the maximum wildlife deaths in the last three years. Added to this, a leopard was killed recently on the Karnataka-Goa border on the Hospet-Tinnaighat-Goa line.In cases of elephant/wildlife killings on tracks, as per rules, Zonal Railways must investigate the incidents/conduct inquiry wherever necessary. Based on this, preventive measures must be taken by them in coordination with MoEF.
Meanwhile, railway authorities in New Delhi state that speed restriction have been imposed to the extent possible on trains passing through forests as advised by wildlife authorities. A railway official adds, “It is mandatory for drivers to observe speed restrictions as per our rules. If they fail to adhere to the speed restrictions in forest areas, action has to be taken for over-speeding.”
Wildlife activist Giridhar Kulkarni adds, “Speed restrictions and disciplinary action provision is applicable not only in forest areas but even outside this. However, South Western Railways have failed to reduce speed limit of trains that passes through dense forests in Karnataka. Since this is not being followed, appropriate action should be taken against officials concerned and erring drivers.”