Govt holds Railway dept responsible for elephants’ death

Bhubaneswar: Even as the railway officials, who are reportedly responsible for the yesterday’s jumbo tragedy, are busy passing the buck on each other, Forest and Environment minister Bijayshree Routray here has put the blame on Railway authority for the tragedy.
Talking to the press persons here, Routray said even the Railway department had agreed upon the condition of speed limitation at all elephant movement areas in a meeting between Railway and Forest department in 2009, railway authorities have hardly taken the matter into consideration.
“It is the duty of the railway authority to sensitise their driver to slow down the trains at the vulnerable places where the wild lives are crossing the railway lines”, Routray told newsmen.
Moreover, six signal posts are installed at the herd's movement area and the accident took place at third signal points, he said adding the tragedy could have been avoided if the driver would slow down the speed from the first signal post.
“The driver must have seen the signal point, but he has not been instructed to slow down”, the minister alleged.
On the hand, Khurdha DRM Sanjay Mohanty said the matter of speed restriction is not in the general advisory prepared after the meeting between Railway and Forest department in 2009.
Meanwhile, a case was registered against the driver of the Coromandel express holding him responsible for the accident.
The Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, running at a speed of 110 kmph, hit a herd of elephants on Saturday night at Subalaya village in Ganjam killing six of them on the spot.
While  wildlife officials said that railway authorities had been informed about the movement of the elephants well in advance, the railway officials claimed that information about the herd's movement reached them quite late and there was no way the railways could have done anything to prevent the tragedy.