To address the alarming rise in elephant casualties due to train collisions, Indian Railways has unveiled ‘Gajraj Suraksha,’ an indigenously developed AI-based technology. Over the past decade, approximately 200 elephants have lost their lives in such accidents, posing a dual threat to wildlife and railway operations.
The urgency of the situation is underscored by a recent tragic incident. Three elephants were killed in a collision with a parcel train in the forest of Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal. The incident occurred early in the morning between Rajabhatkhawa and Kalchini railway stations, emphasising the critical need for proactive measures to safeguard wildlife and improve railway safety.
Gajraj Suraksha functions as an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and employs an AI algorithm along with a network of Optical Fibre Cables (OFC). Boasting a detection rate of 99.5%, it aims to provide a swift and effective solution to the long-standing issue of elephant-train collisions.
It operates by sensing pressure waves generated by the movement of elephants along railway tracks. Optical fibres, strategically placed, detect vibrations caused by the footsteps of elephants. These vibrations trigger signals within the OFC network, enabling the system to identify the presence of elephants up to 200 metres ahead of their arrival on the track.
Union Minister of Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has announced plans to deploy Gajraj Suraksha in key regions, including West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Kerala, certain parts of Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu. The Northeast Frontier Railways has been chosen to pilot the program in some of the worst-affected areas.
The technology is not only effective but also cost-efficient. With an estimated implementation cost of Rs 181 crores for a vast network spanning 700 kilometres of railway tracks, it presents a viable and scalable solution for Indian Railways. The goal is to deploy Gajraj Suraksha across all elephant corridors in the country within the next 8 months.
Gajraj Suraksha ensures a quick and accurate communication chain. The system sends alarms to station masters whenever movement is detected along the tracks, allowing them to promptly inform locomotive drivers in the affected areas. This proactive approach aims to reduce the number of elephant casualties caused by train accidents significantly.
The technology is already fully operational along a specific stretch covering approximately 70 kilometres in the Northeast Frontier Railways. Authorities believe that this indigenous solution will mark a significant stride in protecting wildlife and enhancing the safety of railway operations.
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