BHUBANESWAR: Preliminary probe has found lapses with the Railways for the shocking death of the elephant on the tracks. Sambalpur Divisional Forest Officer Sanjeet Kumar who made a spot inquiry said explanation has also been sought from Sambalpur ranger since this is the second incident within the range in three weeks. Prima facie, lapses in regulation of speed limit has led to killing of the elephant, Kumar said and added that it is difficult for a pachyderm to survive a train collision if the speed limit is not below 30 kmph as per caution. Besides, the incident took place within the caution period of 5 pm to 9 am.
“Details have been sought from Sambalpur Divisional Manager regarding speed limits of the Puri-Surat Express train as well as goods train that crossed the rail line a little while before the incident,” Kumar said and added that they have called for details of the driver and assistant driver of the train for further inquiry into this matter.
An assistant forest conservator (ACF) has been assigned the probe. Any lapses found on part of the forester or forest guards will also be dealt accordingly, he said. The DFO said that though nine places have been identified along the 33-km Jujumara-Haribari stretch under Sadar forest range and requests have been made to railway authorities to construct underpasses at six places, the proposal hasn’t been executed.
“Since the projects have seen no progress, railways authorities must fix speed limit that needs to be followed to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. It doesn’t make any sense to issue caution if the speed limit is not restricted,” he said.
Railway officials, on the other hand, claimed that speed of trains was within the caution limit and the incident could have happened due to fog. Sambalpur Divisional Railway Manager Pradeep Kumar visited the spot to inquire about the incident but a high-level probe team has also been formed. Railway staff are being provided fresh training to prevent such mishaps in areas where underpass and overpass are yet to be created.
Elephant found dead
Sonepur: An elephant calf was found dead near Menda village under Sonepur forest range on Monday. The pachyderm is believed to be around two years old. Locals first spotted the carcass in Barapahad jungle and informed forest officials. Sonepur ACF Prafulla Dharua along with a team reached the spot and started investigation. Cause of the elephant’s death in yet to be ascertained. However, forest officials suspect that the jumbo might have died due to food poisoning.
Train runs over tusker, engine derails
Sambalpur: An adult elephant was run over by a speeding train between Hatibari and Maneswar railway stations around 2 am on Monday. Under impact, six wheels of the Puri-Surat Express engine were derailed. The tusker died - its body was mauled by the train - but passengers and loco pilot escaped with minor injuries. The train was reportedly moving at a speed of 50 km per hour after elephant caution was sounded but the collision’s impact was so intense that the engine derailed. Sources said, a herd of 15 elephants was crossing the tracks when the mishap took place.
The driver noticed the jumbos only after the train had come very close to the animals and it was too late to apply the emergency brake. Following the incident, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Sambalpur Pradeep Kumar along with a team of senior officers reached the spot. Subsequently, a new engine arrived from Rairakhol and pulled back all the coaches to Hatibari railway station. Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Sambalpur Sanjeet Kumar also reached the spot with a team.
“Body of the elephant was badly mangled under impact of the hit. We collected the elephant’s tusks and the carcass was later cremated,” he said. The tusker was 12 to 13 years old. Due to the mishap, the train was stranded for around five hours at Hatibari. Railway sources informed that necessary repairs were completed at around 7:10 am in the morning and the train left Hatibari station at 7:24 am. General Manager of East Coast Railway ordered a senior officer level inquiry into this matter.