The Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Railway Project will introduce use of sensor system to detect the presence of elephants near rail-tracks to avoid accidents, according to a publication of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The technology, which comprises thermal imaging cameras or seismic sensors, will help save the lives of both elephants and human beings.
Supported by the ADB's High-Level Technology (HLT) Fund, construction of the proposed 102-kilometre railway line is expected to make significant contribution to Bangladesh's tourism sector.
An article titled 'Using Sensor Technology to Avoid Elephant-Train Accidents in Bangladesh' has recently been published in 'Development Asia'. It is the ADB's knowledge collaboration platform for sharing development experience and expertise, best practice, and technology relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to it, the railway link will connect Cox's Bazar district to the country's railway network, facilitating transportation to the world's longest sea beach.
"The project will not only boost the national economy through further development of Cox's Bazar into a major tourist destination, but also facilitate access to the Trans-Asia Railway network for the local population as well as the entry of local products to sub-regional markets and trade," the article noted.
It also said the Asian elephant is classified as endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world's most comprehensive information source on the extinction risk of animals, fungi, and plants.
There are around 40,000 Asian elephants in the world. In Bangladesh, the Forest Department has reported that there are around 300 Asian elephants, and most of them are in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.
These elephants are known to migrate from across the border in Myanmar to Cox's Bazar and Chittagong, and reach the north-east Indian states of Tripura and Mizoram.
They are often seen raiding crops or roaming through settlements in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.
The article also noted that the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Railway Project will involve crossing several elephant travel routes.
The project is implementing measures to prevent elephant-train accidents, including construction of underpasses, at grade crossings, guide fencing, and the world's first overpass for elephants.
The measures also include improvement in the quality of forests and habitat in the protected areas to minimise the need for elephants to raid crops and venture out of the forests.
The project will introduce a sensor system to detect elephants along the railway.
Besides, it will provide training to Bangladesh Railway staff and enhance their capacity on the new sensor system along with importance of biodiversity.
The project is scheduled to conclude officially in 2022.