Another elephant underpass likely to come up in Madukkarai forest

Joint inspection over; Palakkad rly division to take up work between Ettimadai and Walayar 
A wild elephant at the elephant underpass in Madukkarai forest | Express
A wild elephant at the elephant underpass in Madukkarai forest | Express

COIMBATORE:  After completing the construction of the elephant underpass successfully, construction of another underpass in the same Railway line ‘B’ between Ettimadai and Walayar, coming under Madukkarai, is expected to be taken up by the Palakkad Railway division of Southern Railway soon.   

District Forest Officer N Jayaraj said they have completed a joint inspection for the work and requested the railway officials to fill the earth wherever the landscape is steep to facilitate easy movement of elephants crossing. Currently, the animals are facing hurdles in crossing the track except in the place where the underpass is located.

“We have removed a camera trap that was set up in the recently completed underpass to monitor the movement of the elephants. The flashlight and motion sensor in the camera may disturb the wild animals when they are using the underpass. So far, an elephant is frequently using the underpass along with a herd of four elephants and some spotted deer and gaurs. But the number of animals using the underpass is not large. We suspect that elephants are not moving inside the underpass due to a lack of grass and other vegetation as the earth was cleared as part of the construction work. We will wait for the rains, which will help to grow grass,” the DFO said.

Forest department officials said they have requested the railway officials to set up a rail fence on both sides for 1 km to prevent elephants from crossing the track. “Though the elephants cross the track so many times, they hardly use the existing underpass. To restrict them from crossing the track which may end up in danger due to the train movement, the railway fence is being proposed to prevent the animal from crossing the track and guide them to use the underpass,” the officials said.  

Sources in the railways said, “We have accepted the proposal and are in the process of finalising the tender.” According to sources, the railways already have sanctioned a total cost of Rs 7.49 crore for constructing two underpasses. Similar to the first underpass, the second one will also be prefixed ready-made structures, the construction of which will be completed in a year.

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The New Indian Express