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Forest department to propose shifting of railway track from lion habitat

 The forest department is set to recommend to the railway authorities to find an alternative route to Pipavav port even if means diversion of several km. A team of officials led by principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) C N Pandey, will meet railway officials on June 3. The team is heading to Mumbai after the death of six lions in two months in the Rajula region. All six lions died after being hit by goods train heading to or from Pipavav port. Additional chief secretary of forests and environment H K Dash said the team is heading to Mumbai with a proposal to withdraw the line from the area and find alternative routes.


He further said the forest department is also open to fencing the route provided the Railways permit underpasses at regular intervals. As a short term measure the department will ask them to reduce the speed to nearly 25 km per hour. Senior officials further said that till a permanent solution is worked out, authorities want to halt goods train runs once lion activity begins. Lions are most active form 7 pm to 7 am. The forest department will propose to the railways to stop movement of the trains in the night. Since these are good trains, they can be loaded in the night from Surendranagar and move towards their destination. Officials said that, "We have noticed that these incidents are in the early morning or in the wee hours." Officials said that as lions get active in the wee hours the dark makes it difficult to spot them on the tracks.


By the time the driver spots the animal, it is too late and the driver cannot brake. Officials said the forest department has surveyed the area decided that there should be around 27 underpasses on the 3 km stretch where lion prides are found. The department said they were against fencing, but if adequate underpasses at regular intervals are constructed, they can go ahead with the proposal. The fencing and underpass proposal would be costing about 20 crore to the railways. Since this was a line set up on Public Private Patnership, the railway will be able to take a decision faster.


 Times of India, Delhi, Tuesday 2nd June 2014