राजुला Rajula (RLA): The forest department is thinking of sending a proposal to the railways to stop movement of trains at night through forest areas around Rajula (Amreli district) where lions are known to move between 7 pm and 7 am. As most trains that pass through the forests in these areas are goods trains, they can be loaded in Surendranagar and sent off to their destinations before nightfall.
The forest department decided to send this proposal after a number of lions were run over by goods trains in three different incidents recently. Officials said that they had noticed that these accidents tended to take place just before sunrise or early in the morning.
The officials further said that movement of the lions increases in the morning when it is still slightly dark. At this time, it becomes difficult to spot the lions if they happen to be on the railway tracks. By the time a driver sees the animal, it is too late as it is not possible to stop a train suddenly.
After the second incident, forest department officials had carried out a count and found that more than 40 lions had been living around the railway tracks along the coast near Rajula. After the second incident, the officials had organized training of train drivers but this had not worked as the drivers of goods trains had refused to reduce their speed. This had led to another accident – the third – in this area.
After the second incident, a detailed lion population count was also undertaken in the areas. It was found that 40-odd lions had been living in the region along the tracks, said the officials. This area has 4-5 lion prides.
In the wee hours on Sunday, a male cub, which was about seven months old, was found dead beside the track between Bherai and Pipavav port. Later at around 6 am that day, some villagers spotted the carcass and informed the forest department.
An official said that as most trains that pass through this area at night are goods trains, the forest department was thinking of restricting the movement of trains in this area in the wee hours or late at night.
Such incidents are avoidable, said officials. Railways have been told to reduce the speed of the trains and drivers have been given maps too but the drivers refuse to slow down their trains. Further, the track is constructed in public-private partnership. Officials said that the state forest department plans to force the railways to set up high fences along the railway tracks. This would ensure that lions and their cubs keep away from the railway tracks.