Elephant calf mowed down in Bengal


Kolkata : An elephant calf died after it was mowed down by a goods train near Rajabhatkhawa range in West Bengal’s Buxa Tiger Reserve.

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Local reports here said the elephant calf was found dead near Shikari gate level crossing Tuesday. It had been run over by a Guwahati-bound train from Siliguri.

“We have alerted railway authorities repeatedly to slow down the trains passing through the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Now, we will request chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to take up the matter with the centre,” West Bengal Forest Minister Ananta Roy said.

With this, the total number of elephants killed in train accidents in Dooars, in the northern part of the state, rose to 11 in the past two years. Of them, four died in Buxa forest area.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident. We have already pointed out the problem to the railway ministry and it is now looking into it. We want trains which pass through north Bengal forest area at night to slow down their speed,” West Bengal principal chief conservator of forest Atanu Raha said.

He alleged animals were being frequently run over by trains because of the negligence of railway authorities.

Forest officials alleged that the train was running at a very high speed when it hit the elephant calf. Calcutta High Court had earlier issued a ruling to maintain low speed on a particular stretch.

“The driver could not prevent the accident as the calf suddenly came in front of the train. We don’t want to kill any wild animals intentionally,” North-East Frontier Railway chief public relation officer T. Rabha told IANS.

For the first time since 2004 when the railway track between Siliguri and Alipurduar was converted into a broad gauge line, the matter has been taken up at the central level to prevent frequent mowing down of wild animals by fast-moving trains on an 185-km stretch of the railway track.