State seeks speed restriction of trains to save jumbos

Bhubaneswar: Seeking the Centre's intervention to ensure speed restrictions at crossing points used by elephants, Odisha government on Wednesday asked the Railway Board to revisit its advisories on prevention of train accidents involving the animals.
"I would request you to kindly prevail upon the Ministry of Railways to ensure that speed restrictions are imposed on trains in the national park, sanctuaries, elephant reserves and major elephant crossing points," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Environment and Forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
Referring to the death of five wild elephants in a train accident in Odisha's Ganjam district on December 29 night, Patnaik said it could have been averted had the speed of the train been reduced by the Railways.
"The accident occurred due to high speed of train in spite of the cautionary signboards erected by the side of the railway track. In fact, the train had crossed the third signboard by the time of the accident," he said.
The state government has also asked the Railway Board chairman to impose restriction on the speed of trains on the major elephant crossing points in the state, Patnaik said.
Railways should 'revisit' its advisories and instructions relating to prevention of train accidents involving elephants and make appropriate amendments in consultation with the chief wildlife wardens and other wildlife experts to prevent recurrence of such incidents.