On the night of April 6th, 2023, a tragic incident occurred in the Angul-Sambalpur Railway Section, where an elephant lost its life due to a train accident between Boinda and Jarapada Stations. Some media outlets have reported that the incident occurred due to a lack of coordination between the Railway and Forest Department.
It is mentioned here that, there are Wildlife Control Cells functioning at Divisional Headquarters at Sambalpur and Khurda Road Railway Division that provide information regarding movement of elephants to the Divisional Controls so that the movement of wildlife will be safe on Railway tracks. This coordination leads to the railways running the trains at a lower speed and blowing horns while moving on a particular stretch of track to avoid wildlife and train conflict.
In this particular incidence, the Wildlife Control Cell manned by Forest Department at Sambalpur Railway Division gave a Memo to the Divisional Control Office on restriction of Train Movement at 06.30p.m. on 06.04.2023 mentioning that in view of Elephant movement, train running should be restricted with Speed Limit of 50Kmph from Kms 125/00 to Kms 131/00 from both sides between Boinda and Jarapada Stations from 06.30p.m. of 06.04.2023 to 06.30a.m. of 07.04.2023.
Upon receiving this information, the Railways took necessary steps, and the instructions were clearly communicated to the Loco Pilot, who followed the orders provided to him through a caution order. However, it should be noted that the unfortunate incident occurred beyond the above-mentioned area, specifically at KMs 131/23-25, which is beyond the elephant passing zone, as per the memo of the Forest Department. The incident occurred at 2121hrs while 20832 Sambalpur-Shalimar Mahima Gosain Express was approaching Jarapada Railway Station from Boinda in Sambalpur-Angul Railway Section, with all precautions taken by maintaining the above-mentioned speed limit, blowing horns, and following all caution orders.
After the incident, the loco-pilot checked the spot and proceeded to Jarapada Station at 2149hrs and reached at 2152hrs and reported the incident to the Station authorities. Later, the Railway track was checked, and permission was given for train movement at 2233hrs.
A team of forest and Wildlife Department visited the spot to remove the elephant body from Railway Track on 7th April 2023. Railway officials also cooperated with Forest Department for removal of Elephant body from the train line. Train Traffic Movement Block was taken from 1445hrs to 1510hrs for this purpose.
ECoR takes the unfortunate incident of the elephant's death very seriously and is monitored at the top level of management. All channels of communication are open for proper coordination with the Forest Department, and there is no lack of coordination from the Railway system.
It is further mentioned here that, there was no casualty or injury to any passenger and all the passengers were safe. Swift and appropriate action had been taken by East Coast Railway on receipt of the information regarding Elephant Movement.
It is also mentioned that, with proper coordination with the Forest department, ECoR has already been following elephant caution orders, where the speed of trains is restricted for the safe movement of elephants on the track, at the cost of punctuality of the trains. Elephant caution orders exist at many places in ECoR jurisdiction, like near Rambha & Huma in Khurda Road-Brahmapur Railway Section, Naraj-Rajathgarh Section, Rajathgarh-Angul-Sambalpur Railway Sections apart from other places in ECoR jurisdiction where Railway is coordinating with Forest Department for saving wildlife.