In a bid to eliminate incidence of elephant deaths on tracks, the Forest Department has started constructing ramps on either side of the track B in Madukkarai–Walayar section of Coimbatore–Palakkad line. The facility will be ready in 15 days.
Since 1978, 17 elephants had died in 12 accidents along the 16.25-km-long track A and 18-km-long track B along the stretch of Podanur–Palakkad section. After a couple of elephant deaths in the last two months, a study of the accident-prone spots and the behavioural pattern of the jumbos was taken up through camera trap images.
Elephants were found to be crossing the railway track to reach a water body. In addition, the 25-ft elevation on both sides of the track forced the jumbos to slow down on the track and ascend or descend the gradient, said A. Periasamy, Divisional Forest Officer. The ramps will provide a gentle slope making it easy for animals to climb and descend from the height, he says.
ACC cements at Madukkarai has offered to provide cement waste for forming the base for the ramp which will be constructed at a cost of Rs 6 lakh.
On completion of the ramps, cameras will be installed to study the behavioural pattern of the elephants. Based on feedback, a decision would be taken on constructing ramps at other vulnerable stretches with improvements and modifications if required, he said.
Water trough near hills
The Forest Department is also creating a water trough near the hills. This will prevent or reduce instances of elephants crossing the track to reach the water body, the DFO said.
Palakkad Division of Southern Railway has already cleared vegetation on the sides of the track at curves to enhance visibility for the loco pilot.
A request has been made to clear the vegetation along the tracks for a further distance of 3 km, Mr. Periasamy said. The number of boards alongside the tracks to caution loco pilots to slow down is also being increased, he added.
The facility in the Madukkarai–Walayar section will have a gentle slop to help jumbos climb and descend from a height