The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken suo motu cognizance of the recent elephant deaths in Buxa Tiger Reserve, where three elephants were killed by a speeding goods train. Acting on a Times of India report, the NGT has ordered the North West Frontier Railways GM, Buxa Tiger Reserve field director, and other relevant authorities to submit affidavits within four weeks explaining the incident and outlining preventive measures.
The incident, which occurred near Rajabhatkhawa Shikari Gate, involved a herd crossing the tracks when the train struck them. An adult female and two calves were flung off the tracks, tragically succumbing to the impact. Concerns have been raised about the train’s excessive speed and the driver’s failure to notice the herd despite clear visibility.
In response to these concerns, the NGT’s intervention seeks to hold accountable parties responsible and prevent similar tragedies in the future. The affidavits will shed light on the investigation, including details on train speed, driver actions, and existing safety measures at the crossing.
Furthermore, a glimmer of hope emerges with the “Gajraj System,” an AI-based surveillance system developed by the railways. Successfully implemented on a 150-km stretch in Assam, this system boasts 99.5% accuracy in detecting elephants near tracks. With a proposed 700-km rollout and a cost of Rs 181 crore, the Gajraj System has the potential to significantly reduce train-elephant collisions, especially in crucial elephant corridors.
The NGT’s action and the introduction of the Gajraj System demonstrate a concerted effort towards protecting endangered elephants and ensuring their safe passage across railway tracks. As the investigation progresses and the system expands, we can hope for a future where such tragedies become a distant memory and elephants roam free without fear of the iron serpent.