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Blame game continues over the death of elephants

Posted on Jan 02, 10:43PM | UNI

The blame game over the death of six elephants in a train accident in Odisha on the midnight of December 29 at Subalaya between Rambha and Huma stations in Khurda Road-Brahmapur section of East Coast Railway continued with both the state government and the railways blaming each other for the accident.

While the Railways said they were working as per the guidelines issued by the Railway Board, the Odisha Forest and Environment Minister said the accident occured as the railways ignored the guidelines.

The Khurda Road Divisional Railway Manager S K Mohanty told newspersons here that as per the six point guidelines issued by the Railway Board after a meeting of the Ministry of railways and MOEF,the forest department will have to engage elephant trackers equipped with mobile phones/walkies to inform the railway officials about the movement of elephants around the track to help the railway will alert its train crew.

But the state government had not yet implemented it and planned to implement it by March 2013.

Mr Mohanty denied the allegation that the accident occurred as the Railways did not restrict the speed even after it was informed about the movement of the elephant herd.

He said by the time they had received the information the accident had already occurred and there was no scope to instruct the driver to restrict the speed. Had they received the information at least 15or 20 minutes before the accident could have been prevented.

Mr Mohanty denied receipt of any prior information or letter about the movement of elephant herds near the track.He said they had not yet received the December 18 letter of the Khalikote Range officer about the movement of elephants even till today.

On the allegation that the driver did not restrict the speed even though signages were put up in the area, Mr Mohanty said the signages were a warning to the drivers to blow hootings not to restrict the speed.

He said there was instruction to restrict the speed of the train only in some areas declared as highly vunerable but not in vunerable areas. The area where the accident occurred was not declared a highly vunerable area, he said.