Sunday, October 24, 2010

Train runs over crocodile in Sindhudurg
By Rajendra Aklekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
After seven elephants perished on the tracks in West Bengal in September, a crocodile has now fallen prey to a speeding train in Maharashtra.
A Konkan Railway train, on its way to Mumbai from Madgaon in Goa, ran over a rare species of crocodile in Sindhudurg district Friday morning, killing it instantly. Environmentalists from the region are up in arms and have demanded that the stretch of the railway line passing through the wildlife corridor be fenced off.
The incident happened at Madura, near Sawantwadi station, about 500km from Mumbai.
The crocodile was split into two by the speeding train. An alert gangman informed the local station master, who in turn reported the incident to the police. A team of wildlife officers then visited the spot for an inspection. Sources said the crocodile was about seven to eight years old and 140cm long.
Environmentalists say that such incidents happen frequently on the stretch that is rich with various fauna, but are never reported.
“Konkan is a declared eco-sensitive zone. It has a large number of rare species that are not even fully documented. The spot where the incident occurred yesterday has several water bodies with a large number of crocodiles. The railway line passing through such stretches should be fenced,” said Dr Jayendra Parulekar, an environmentalist from Sawantwadi, and a member of the Save Western Ghats Forum.
The Western Ghats are already in the tentative list of UNESCO’s world natural heritage sites.
“This is an eco-sensitive zone and the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, has identified several rare aquatic species,” said Vaishali Patil of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti.
“The landslides that have disrupted the Konkan railway time and again only show that proper environmental studies were not done before commissioning such projects. The same is true for the large number of mining projects that have now been given permission in the region,” she added.
"Instead of fencing, the railways could install sensors which would scare away animals from the rail lines,” said Sunish Subramanian of Plant and Animal Welfare Society, adding that he was writing a letter to environment minister Jairam Ramesh on this issue.
Siddheshwar Telugu, deputy general manager with Konkan Railway, however, said it was a one-off incident. “It was a rare incident. As far as fencing is considered, the railways may not be in a position to decide on this. But the local authorities can take the initiative for it.”
It may be recalled that in September a freight train had mowed down seven elephants near Jalpaiguri in West Bengal after which the Indian Railways said they were trying to find a permanent solution to the problem.

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