A speeding goods train ran over two elephants at Nambira, 60 km away from Keonjhar town, on Wednesday night. A baby elephant survived, but was injured. Forest officials detained the train and arrested the driver. The incident occurred past 10 pm between Nayagarh and Jugudi. The coal-laden train, on its way from Paradip to Jamshedpur, hit the elephants. A tusker and one female elephant died on the spot while the baby elephant was knocked off the tracks and fell in a ditch which saved its life.
Keonjhar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ajay Kumar Jena and Ramapada Mishra, Range Officer from Champua, rushed to the spot and arrested the train driver Goutam Patel.
A large herd moving in the area was crossing the tracks, but a small group appeared to have got stuck before the train which was moving in a good speed. The train staff apparently did not use the hooter. Nor were reflectors installed to alert the jumbos despite repeated requests from the Wildlife Wing in the past. “We have arrested the train driver under Wildlife Protection Act and detained the goods train,” DFO Jena said. This is the second such incident in Keonjhar, heartland of mining in Odisha. In September 2007, two female elephants were mauled by a goods train.
Though such incidents are frequent in West Bengal and Assam, the opening of the Daitari-Banspani line to facilitate iron ore movement five years back has made the jumbos more vulnerable.