The administration of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand on Thursday wrote to the Indian Railways urging it to reconsider its decision to increase train speed from 35 kmph to 100 kmph while passing through the reserve to avoid wildlife casualties.

DK Singh, director of Rajaji Tiger Reserve said, “Taking cognisance of media reports regarding change of train speed while passing through the reserve, I have written to the railway authorities to reconsider the decision.”

“As per the norms of the Union environment ministry and the Nainital High Court, speed limit of trains passing through Rajaji Tiger Reserve should not be more than 35 kmph as it is a wildlife sensitive area with regular movement. The train speed had been specially reduced to ensure that animals like elephants, leopards, tigers do not get killed by trains,” he added.

In 2015, the National Board for Wildlife in a standing committee had decided that, “Speed limit of trains shall be followed strictly up to 35km/h during night and 40 km/h during day time.”

In 2016, the Nainital High Court had ordered, “Forest department is directed to set up a monitoring cell to track movement of elephants and other wild animals and to inform railway authorities. There shall be coordination between the forest department and the railways. Railway authorities are directed to ensure that speed of trains should not be more than 30km/hr…”

Elephant deaths after being hit by trains are a major problem in the Rajaji landscape.

Last November, two elephants were found dead within three days in Lachiwala range in Dehradun in the state. Of these two, a 35-year-old female elephant was found dead in the range after being hit by a train.

Last year in July, a carcass of a three-year-old elephant was found in a gorge near Nakraunda area in Dehradun forest division after it was hit by a train.

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