Despite stiff opposition, Pinarayi stays firm on Silverline project

Silverline Project Kerala
Representational Image

Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition UDF walked out of the assembly to protest against the denial of permission by Speaker for bringing an adjournment motion regarding the apprehensions related to Thiruvananthapuram-Kasargod Semi High-Speed Rail (Silver Line ) Project.

PWD Minister G Sudhakaran informed the House that the land for the project would be acquired only after getting final nod from the central government. The chief minister also assured that the project would not be implemented by  destroying agricultural land or by creating problems for the people.

Earlier Kerala Congress MLA Mons Joseph who gave the notice for adjournment motion alleged that the government was not adopting a practical approach in connection with the project. The project would push the state into a huge debt trap. The government has not been able to operate even the KSRTC in a proper way, he added.

Mons said the project which even Metroman E Sreedharan termed as "unscientific", should be shelved immediately.

However, the chief minister made it clear that the project cannot be abandoned. He said the rail line would be built on an elevated platform in greenfield areas to ensure that there is no damage to agricultural land. The water bodies and wetlands would be protected.

He said of the 530 km project, 220 km will run parallel to the existing Kasargod -Tirur rail line. The remaining stretch from Tirur to Thiruvananthapuram would require a new rail line. A total of 9,314 buildings will have to be removed along the rail line.

A social impact study will be carried out. The environment impact assessment is currently on and the project activities would begin subject to the approval for Detailed Project Report (DPR), the chief minister said.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the ruling front’s tactics behind the project are to pocket hefty commissions by announcing mega schemes which are not practical and by giving consultancy contracts. Even the Centre had pointed out that the project was not required. 

He said if the project was going to cost the amount that the Centre has estimated, then it would be difficult to repay the loans even if entire Kerala was put on sale. The government should convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

Earlier the opposition had agreed not to stage a walkout following the assurance by G Sudhakaran that land acquisition in connection with the project would begin only after getting final approval of the centre.  However, the opposition became restive when John Fernandez who was in the Chair said that opposition deputy leader M K Muneer would not be given time to speak. Subsequently, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala announced the walkout.

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