ROURKELA: As part of its plan to reduce elephant deaths in train mishaps, Sundargarh’s Rourkela Forest Division (RFD) is all set to introduce the sensor-based ‘early warning system’ along railway tracks and adopt other technologies to track the real-time movement of herds.
The move comes in wake of two adult elephants being mowed down by a speeding goods train on February 3 this year near Mahipani of Bisra range under the RFD. Sources said the system is expected to be operational in next three months and talks for technical support with IIT-Delhi and Ear to the Wild Foundation are underway. In April, a team from IIT-Delhi had visited the proposed site for field trial.
Rourkela divisional forest officer (DFO) Sanjay Swain said as Mahipani along the busy Howrah-Mumbai main line of South Eastern Railway (SER) is the most vulnerable point, the acoustic sensor-based ‘early warning system’ would be fixed underground on both sides of the tracks covering 1.5 to 2 km on a pilot basis. The electromechanical sensor system will read seismic signatures of the elephant feet and immediately alert the railway control room at Bondamunda which will inform the approaching loco pilot to halt the train. The SER would bear the major cost of the project.
Swain further informed that, to end elephant-human conflict and track movement of the jumbos near railway tracks, efforts are underway to put radio collars on necks of the leaders of herds with help of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The radio telemetry system is a tried and tested method and the GPS-enabled radio collars will provide real-time information about location of a herd, the DFO added.
Sources said very high frequency (VHF) pairing system is already in use to pass on message to control rooms of the RFD and railways on tracing elephants near accident prone areas including Mahipani, Patasahi, Champajharan and Sunakhani along the Howrah-Mumbai and Rourkela-Bimlagarh routes of SER. Besides, possible entry points of elephant herds to railway tracks at Khuntgaon of Bisra range and Champajharan and Patasahi of Banki range have been protected with solar fencing.