The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the railways to take steps for reducing speed of trains passing through reserve forests so as to save elephants who die after being hit by the fast-moving trains.
A bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra also asked the railways to explore restricting the movement of trains including goods trains through the reserve forests at night. The court also asked railways to mull the option of diverting the route between Siliguri and Alipurduar section.
The court also directed the presence of a senior railway official on the next date of hearing on Jan 21, 2014 to respond to its queries.
Noting with regret that most of the states which were made party to the petition have not responded, the court directed the re-issuance of the notice to Assam, Odisha, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Their response has been sought by Jan 21, 2014.
The court noted that from 2007 to 2012, 77 elephants have died on account of being hit by the fast moving trains in the reserve forest.
Its response came while taking note of West Bengal government's submission that in the case of north Bengal, the only solution was reducing the speed of train, discontinue movements of goods trains at night between Siliguri and Alipurduar and divert fast moving and night trains through Siliguri-Falakata route.
Appearing for the petitioner Shakti Prasad Nayak, counsel Sanjeev Panigrahi told the court that the speed limit of the train passing through reserve forest should be reduced to 25 km per hour.
The PIL petitioner has disputed the official figures contending that the killing of elephants on rail tracks was many times more than what was being officially admitted. As many as 500 elephants have died due to such accidents in last five years, the court was told earlier.
The PIL has sought the framing and enforcement of procedures and mechanisms to ensure the safety and security and protection of this endangered species.