Chennai, Feb 1 (BPNS)
The Southern Railway Palakkad division is to sensitize people and create awareness among commuters to not drop food leftovers and garbage on rail tracks. A study conducted by the retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forest ( PCCF), Kerala, K. Harikumar has found that the elephants and other wild animals are getting attracted towards rail tracks following the smell of food waste that is being dropped by passengers on tracks.
Several NGOs of Coimbatore and Podannur area had already complained to the railways that elephants are getting killed by speeding trains in tracks near Madhukkarai in Tamil Nadu. These NGO’s which are into study of wildlife and on wild elephants have found that one of the reasons for the elephants and other wild animals getting hit by speeding trains are due to the smell of food leftovers thrown by commuters on tracks and have recommended the Railways to create awareness among passengers on this.
K. Kalidas of Osai environmental group which is into the study of wildlife while speaking to BPNS said, “ Passengers are knowingly or unknowingly depositing or throwing away food waste and garbage of track and it is rampant in the sector between Palakkad and Podanur where the Madukkarai area falls. Several elephants and other wild animals had got hit by speeding trains and lost their lives due to this and we found that most of the wild animals are reaching the tracks at the smell of food waste.”
People are mostly being forced to throw the waste into the track as the dustbins and wastebins kept in the compartments are overflowing. Kalidas said that one of the solutions is to have specific points in railway stations in the sector to have waste disposal from bins in compartments and Railways must take steps to do this.
Elephants are spotted in the reserve forest area in a two-km stretch of track A and a three km stretch of track B.
Railway officials said that the number of staff deployed to clear the track during daytime and nighttime will also be increased to prevent the elephants and other wild animals from reaching the track. It may be noted that in November 2021, three elephants including a calf had lost their lives after being hit by a speeding Mangalore- Chennai mail. There were heated arguments between the Tamil Nadu forest department and the Railway officials at Palakkad on the issue and Forest department officials of Tamil Nadu were even gheraoed by the Railway staff at the Palakkad.
A senior Railway official said that there are announcements being made at Palakkad railway station educating people not to throw waste in forest areas during their journey as it would attract wild animals including elephants to track thereby endangering the lives of these animals.