Kerala govt seems obsessed with its fancy rail project

Kerala govt seems obsessed with its fancy rail project
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Highlights

The fetish of Silverline - K-Rail project that seems to be always on the top of the mind of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the ruling LDF in the state. In order to bring down travel time from southern tip to northern tip of the state, to mere four hours, is a much discussed and hotly debated programme that the government wants to implement at any cost in the state.

The fetish of Silverline - K-Rail project that seems to be always on the top of the mind of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the ruling LDF in the state. In order to bring down travel time from southern tip to northern tip of the state, to mere four hours, is a much discussed and hotly debated programme that the government wants to implement at any cost in the state.

The CM has already come out with the fare structure, and proposed halts intended for the train, while the survey of land for the project is not yet complete. The UDF is bitterly opposed to the project in view of tremendous expenditure involved in implementing it, which comes close to Rs. one lakh crore.

The project is not supported by several domain experts including Dr E Sreedharan - citing fragile ecology, alignment faults and cost overrun etc. The project will displace over 30,000 families, who have to be rehabilitated meaningfully, which may not be an easy task for the government, given the previous track record of the government, in this regard. Many families are expressing their reluctance to vacate the area despite liberal compensation being offered to them.

The CPI, a constituent of the ruling LDF, has warned the government to tread more carefully in the wake of widespread resentment by people against the project due to a variety of reasons. The Centre has already distanced itself from financial implication in the project; now it is entirely up to the state government to explore wherewithal to finance the project.

The Kerala High Court too has cautioned the state government to refrain from placing big survey stones with marking ' K-Rail', and taking possession of properties belonging to the landowners for the proposed semi high-speed, SilverLine rail corridor, between Thiruvananthapuram-Kasargode, in the light of protests by landowners, who are unwilling to part with their land.

It is reported that around ninety people have been arrested for staging protests against police highhandedness, and government's single minded zeal in acquiring the land. There is a need for rethinking on part of the government - taking all aspects and stakeholders into consideration; but as of now, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has not given any indications to this effect, to be doggedly behind the project, with a renewed zeal.

K V Raghuram, Wayanad

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