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SilverLine: High Court to allow State govt appeals against order deferring survey, land acquisition steps
The Kerala High Court on Friday said it will set aside a single judge order deferring the survey of certain properties and land acquisition steps in connection with the SilverLine project.
Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday said it will set aside a single judge order deferring the survey of certain properties and land acquisition steps in connection with the SilverLine project.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said this orally while considering appeals filed by the state government challenging the single bench order. The court also adjourned the case for a detailed order.
In its appeals, the state sought to set aside the single judge order of February 7 deferring till February 18 the survey and land acquisition steps in connection with SilverLine.
The state government in its appeals, against the single judge's February 7 order, had said that a larger bench of the court on February 14 had held that the state can conduct a survey for identifying properties for a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study in connection with the project.
Therefore, the single judge's observation -- that an SIA study was unnecessary as the state government was not moving forward with land acquisition presently -- was unsustainable in view of the division bench's decision.
The order of the division bench had come on an earlier set of appeals moved by the state against a previous order of the single judge deferring the survey in respect of some properties till February 7.
However, the February 7 order was passed by the single judge after the larger bench had reserved its order in the earlier appeals.
The state, in its latest appeals filed through special government pleader T B Hood, contended that when the division bench had reserved judgement in the earlier appeals on February 4, the single judge ought to have adjourned the matters listed before him on February 7 instead of passing a fresh order further deferring the survey and land acquisition process.
The state also contended that such interim orders, as issued by the single judge, have "the potential to open flood gates of litigation and to unduly delay the project."
"The delay in project execution will result in cost escalation and cause irreparable damage to the state. Even if survey is conducted and survey marks are erected, the petitioners (who had challenged the survey before the single judge) will not suffer any loss or damage.
"Moreover, deferment of survey in some properties hampers the survey in other properties as well," the appeals had claimed.
The single judge's February 7 order had come on several pleas of which some opposed the survey being conducted and the others were against the laying of concrete poles to identify land meant for the SIA study.
The single judge had also questioned the need for an SIA study in view of the Centre's stand that it was "advisable" that land acquisition proceedings for the project be stopped for now.
The court on January 20 had deferred the survey process till February 7 to await certain clarifications from the state regarding the survey it was carrying out.
However, the state went on appeal to a division bench against the January 20 order.
On February 14, the division bench held that the state government has the powers to conduct a survey and mark properties appropriately for conducting an SIA study in connection with the SilverLine project.
The bench also set aside the January 20 order.
It had also said that the SIA study was not an empty formality as only after it is conducted will the state government be able to identify the properties required for acquisition and thereby, inform the public about the extent of land to be acquired.
"Government has to undertake Social Impact Assessment study, in order to make awareness to the public, the public purpose, estimation of affected families, and the number of families likely to be displaced, the extent of lands, public and private, houses, settlements and other common properties likely to be affected by the proposed acquisition, etc.
"Only after conducting such a study, the State government would be able to identify the properties required for acquisition and thereby, inform the public about the extent of land and other aspects dealt with therein," the bench had said.
The Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine project, which is expected to reduce travel time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to around four hours, is being opposed by the opposition Congress-led UDF, which has been alleging that it was "unscientific and impractical" and will put a huge financial burden on the state.
The 530-kilometre stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod would be developed by K-Rail -- a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Railway Ministry for developing railway infrastructure in the southern state.
Starting from the state capital, SilverLine trains will have stoppages at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod.