In the wake of multiple incidents of Vande Bharat train colliding with cattle in Gujarat, the Railway Protection Force has started issuing notices to the heads of villages located along the route in Maharashtra’s Palghar, asking them not allow the animals roam unattended near the tracks, officials said on Friday.
The notices warned that if any cattle owner is found to be negligent, then legal action could be taken against him. The semi-high speed express train service between the capital cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra was launched on September 30 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since its inception, three incidents have taken place in Gujarat in which the train collided with cattle. Talking to PTI, Western Railway chief spokesperson Sumit Thakur said notices are being issued by the Mumbai division of the RPF to the sarpanchs of the villages, in which the authorities have appealed to the local residents not to let their cattle loiter along the tracks so that such mishaps can be averted. The notices issued to the sarpanchs are preventive in nature, Thakur said.
Last Saturday, the Mumbai-Gandhinagar Vande Bharat Superfast Express rammed into cattle near Atul station in Gujarat. It was the third such incident since the inception of the train service. Earlier, on October 6 and 7, the train had rammed into some cattle. Both the incidents had occurred in Gujarat. In all these incidents, the passengers were not hurt, although the train’s front portion suffered damages.
”Such cattle run-over incidents adversely affected the rail operations. Such incidents increase the possibility of rail accidents and can even lead to derailment. They not only cause disruption of rail traffic and loss of property of the railways, but also pose danger to passengers,” Thakur said.
In the notices issued to the sarpanchs, the RPF said that a large number of stray animals (cows and buffaloes) come on to the railway tracks and there is always a possibility that the train-cattle collision can lead to major accidents, In the notices, the RPF has appealed to the sarpanchs to conduct an awareness campaign for villagers living near the railway tracks.
”Please catch the stray animals and send them to gaushalas (cow shelters) built by the administration or social organisations and also make the residents of the village aware of this in the gram sabha meetings,” the notice read.
The notices further warned that if any animal owner is negligent, then it is an offense punishable under the Railways Act, legal action would be taken against him.
Thakur further said that for the prevention of such cases in future, the RPF’s Mumbai division has identified various vulnerable locations. The RPF has carried out frequent awareness and sensitisation campaigns at all these locations.
”The RPF has conducted 1,023 awareness campaigns at vulnerable locations so far this year,” Thakur said. He further said that meetings are being conducted with sarpanchs of all villages located along the railway tracks and so far more than 50 meetings have been held this year to avoid the incidents of cattle hit.
Thakur further said that dumping of garbage along the railway tracks by the people is also a cause as this attracts the cattle to graze near the railway lands/tracks. The RPF is also working in close coordination with city the local administration and police to prevent the movement of stray cattle near railway tracks. A press release issued by the WR last week said the railway authorities are taking strict action against the violators, whose cattle are found moving in the railway land.
As per the provisions of Railways Act 1989, owners of cattle are liable to be punished under section 154 (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful act or omission, punishable with imprisonment for 1 year, or with fine or both) and under section 147 (trespass and refusal to desist from trespass, punishable with imprisonment for 6 months, or fine Rs 1,000 or both), the release said.