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| Last Updated:12/01/2021

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Third railway line through Palamu Tiger Reserve threatens to increase human-elephant conflict





Construction work on the third railway line through the Palamau Tiger Reserve in Jharkhand has already started — with fencing of the area on the Barkakana-Sonnagar section intersecting through the critical tiger habitat core of the reserve.



The railway track from Sonnagar to Patratu was originally created in 1924 to transport coal. Then, it was doubled, and now a third line is being created, he added. The third line is meant for coal transportation from the North Karanpura Thermal Power Station, which lies in the adjacent Chatra district. Besides elephants, other animals will be disturbed and tourism in Betla will be impacted due to the third line. Due to intense human-elephant conflicts, around 400 people die and 100 elephants are killed in retaliation every year, said RK Srivastava, director, Project Elephant.



A Jharkhand department forest officer admits that fencing work has been carried out. “We have sent a notice to the railways, but have not got any reply till now. They should answer as to why the fence has been put up. There are many animals here. How can you stop their movement?” he questioned, on condition of anonymity. 



The reserve is spread over an area of 1,129.93 square kilometre, and spans across both Palamu and Latehar districts. When contacted, YK Das, field director, Palamu, said that the line is not coming up in that area, but maybe in some other area. “How will they do it without our permission? Some people had put up fences and then they removed it,” said Das.



As reported by DTE, between 2015 and 2018, 49 elephants were killed in train accidents (Nine in 2015-16; 21 in 2016-17; 19 in 2017-18). The reserve is also at risk from the Mandal dam, which has been cleared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MoEF&CC’s) Forest Advisory Committee.



If the dam is completed, around 15 villages will have to be relocated. At present, people still live in these villages and shift only temporarily whenever floods occur. DTE had earlier reported that people are continuing their protest against the dam.