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The Madras High Court has sought an explanation from the Southern Railway following a news report of a wall having been constructed between Coonoor and Hillgrove railway stations on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) thereby causing obstruction to free movement of elephants. The court has also ordered joint inspection of the site by the railway as well as forest officials.
A Division Bench of Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar broached the issue during the hearing of a batch of cases related to protection of wildlife. They pointed out that The Hindu Tamil Thisai newspaper had carried an article on the NMR having constructed the wall obstructing the elephant corridor and that the animals could lose their migratory path due to such construction.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj confirmed that the wall had been constructed between Coonoor and Hillgrove railway stations which was a major elephant migratory path. He said that the elephants were finding it difficult to cross the railway tracks because of the wall and hence they were taking dangerous alternative routes.
After recording his submissions, the judges directed Southern Railway counsel P.T. Ramkumar to obtain instructions and file a report by February 14.
They also ordered for a joint inspection by the PCCF-cum-CWC and the railway officials of the site to find out a solution for free movement of the elephants on the NMR route and submit their suggestions to the court by the next hearing.