Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani has requested the Railways to speed up work of barbed wire fencing near railway tracks in Gujarat's Amreli district to avoid accidents and enable free movement of Asiatic lions and other animals of the Gir forest.
Nathwani, in a letter written to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, has also requested for construction of an under passage for the movement of lions in Amreli.
The barbed wire fencing on a 30-km stretch near the railway track in Amreli is required to save the lives of Asiatic lions, he said in the letter.
The Gir national park and wildlife sanctuary in western Gujarat is the only habitat for Asiatic lions.
Notably, three Asiatic lion cubs were crushed to death under a goods train near Pipavav station in Amreli last week.
The accident had occurred when a lioness and three cubs were crossing the railway track near Rampara village close to Pipavav as the train was going to Surendranagar, Nathwani mentioned in his letter.
He also cited some earlier mishaps in which two lionesses were run over by a goods train near Pipavav in January 2014, a lion was mowed down by a train near Savarkundla in February last year and a cub was crushed to death by a goods train near Bherai at Rajula in May.
Nathwani said that the Western Railway officials had earlier assured that the speed of trains near Gir forest in Amreli would be reduced but it has not happened leading to accidents involving the Asiatic lions.
Nathwani requested Prabhu to also consider the demand of not running goods trains during morning and evening hours when there is more movement of lions on rail track in Amreli.
He also demanded that training be imparted to more train drivers to sensitise them about lions, on why the big cats need to be protected and what can they (drivers) can do to ensure the safety of animals, if found on tracks.
The lion population has steadily increased in Gir forest, more than doubling from a low of 180 in 1974 to 411 big cats as of April 2010, sources said.
Nearly 100-150 lions have permanently settled in the coastal areas around Rajula and Jafrabad towns of Amreli.