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Gajraj System: Railways to install AI-based surveillance system to prevent elephant deaths on tracks. 5 points

The Indian Railways will be installing an AI-based surveillance system to prevent elephant deaths on railway tracks. These surveillance system will be installed on 700 kilometres of route passing through forest areas. 

Announcing this, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday said, “We have identified forest areas in Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Jharkhand and some parts of Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu which are home to elephants.” The Minister also said that the technology, which was created by the railroads in association with a few start-ups, was implemented on a 150-kilometer section of Assam last year and has shown to be quite beneficial.

Asked if the railways has officially named the system, the minister said, “You can call it ‘Gajraj System’.” The minister, during his interaction with reporters, referred to the introduction of the system in the NFR.

Top 5 points to know about the AI-based surveillance system

1. As per Railway Minister, the AI-based surveillance system can alert loco pilots well in time about the presence of elephants on tracks.

2. The total cost of the project implementation on the 700-km tracks will be 181 crore.

3. Vaishaw also mentioned that many elephants had been saved up to this point with the aid of this technology. “We made some improvements in the system based on our field experience and now it detects the presence of elephants on tracks with 99.5 per cent accuracy,” he stated. Moreover, he also added that his officials are in touch with the forest departments to identify more such areas to expand the scope of the project.

4. Earlier in September 2023, the Northeast Frontier Railway had hailed the system and said its introduction in 11 elephant corridors in the Northeast helped eliminate elephant deaths due to train collisions.

5. The Intrusion Detection System (IDS) was introduced by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in December 2022 in 11 elephant corridors – five in Alipurduar division and six in Lumding division.

According to the NFR, in the last eight months between its launch in December 2022 and July this year, the system sounded 9,768 alerts, or an average 41 alerts daily. It added that since the launch of the system, these 11 corridors have not reported any train-elephant collision.

How does the system work?

Every time an elephant steps on to the track, the system generates an alert to the train controller, station master, train drivers and other stakeholders who take precautionary measures to avoid the imminent danger.

As per the government data, an average 20 elephants die due to train collisions in the country every year and a majority of these incidents take place in the Northeast Frontier Railway. The success of the IDS holds out hope that such accidents will be a thing of the past, officials said.

They said the optical fiber cable (OFC) that the railways has laid beneath the tracks for tele-communication and signalling purposes comes in handy for the installation of IDS. The device, fitted in the OFC network, captures the vibration when an elephant comes on the track and sends out a real-time alert to the division control room and a mobile application. The system is able to detect and locate moving elephants up to 5 metres from the fibre optical cable.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Updated: 01 Dec 2023, 12:45 PM IST

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