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Railways to deploy an artificial intelligence-based surveillance system covering 700 kilometers of tracks to prevent fatalities of elephants.

AI-Powered 'Gajraj System' Triumphs: Innovative Surveillance Curbs Elephant Deaths on Rail Tracks Across 700km

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw 

announced on Wednesday the deployment of an AI-based surveillance system spanning 700 kilometers of railway tracks cutting through forested regions to mitigate elephant fatalities. Forest areas in Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu, housing elephant populations, have been earmarked for this initiative. The system, developed through collaboration between the railways and start-ups, initially introduced on a 150-kilometer stretch in Assam last year, has demonstrated notable efficacy, boasting a 99.5% accuracy rate in detecting elephants on tracks following refinements based on practical experience.

The project's estimated cost for the entire 700-kilometer stretch stands at Rs 181 crore. Minister Vaishnaw emphasized ongoing collaboration with forest departments to identify additional areas for project expansion. The system, unofficially dubbed 'Gajraj System,' has received acclaim from the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which reported zero train-elephant collisions in 11 elephant corridors after implementing the Intrusion Detection System (IDS) in December 2022.

During his engagement with reporters, Minister Vaishnaw referenced the NFR's implementation of the IDS, designed to minimize elephant casualties. This system, introduced in 11 elephant corridors, sounded 9,768 alerts in the eight months following its launch, averaging 41 alerts daily. Notably, no train-elephant collisions were reported in these corridors during this period.

The IDS operates by generating alerts to the train controller, station master, and relevant stakeholders whenever an elephant is detected on the tracks. Government data reveals an average of 20 elephant deaths annually due to train collisions, with a significant number occurring in the Northeast Frontier Railway. The success of the IDS, relying on optical fiber cables (OFC) laid beneath the tracks for telecommunication and signaling, offers optimism that such incidents could become obsolete.

The device, integrated into the OFC network, captures vibrations when an elephant approaches the tracks, issuing real-time alerts to the division control room and a mobile application. Remarkably, the system can detect and locate moving elephants up to 5 meters from the fiber optical cable. The IDS's conception traces back to the vision of former NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta, inspired by a technology he discovered 13 years prior during a visit to London. Despite experimental attempts in 2011 and 2016, successful implementation occurred only in December 2022, marking a crucial milestone in mitigating train-elephant collisions in identified corridors. Gupta, who retired in March 2023, reflected on the journey that led to the realization of this groundbreaking project.

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