Thiruvananthapuram: Launching a broadside against the Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine semi high-speed railway corridor project connecting Thiruvananthapuram with Kasaragod, technocrat-politician E Sreedharan on Tuesday said the plan was flawed.
The estimated Rs 64,000 project cannot be completed in five years as planned, and it would take at least 10 years and Rs 1.1 lakh crore, Sreedharan, known as India's Metroman, said in a statement.
Likening the corridor to the Great Wall of China, Sreedharan said it would divide Kerala into two.
Flagging flaws in the alignment, he said the corridor has been planned parallel to the existing railway line between Tirur and Kasaragod. The Indian Railways has been opposing the corridor since it would hamper Railways' future quadrupling plans.
As much as 140 kilometres of the proposed 529.45 kilometre rail line passes through paddy fields, which would not be stable for high speeds, he noted, adding that high walls should be constructed to prevent trespassing.
Sreedharan further said that the SilverLine should be away from the existing line, either elevated or underground. "Nowhere in the world high-speed or semi high-speed lines are planned at ground level."
K-Rail, the agency responsible for the corridor, has not yet conducted a direct location survey.
Preparing the alignment based on Google Maps and LiDAR ground survey could not be accepted, the 89-year-old engineer said, adding that the blueprint was prepared based on assumptions. He also said at least 20,000 families should be relocated to construct the corridor.
The claim that the corridor would be completed in 2025 stemmed from the agency's ignorance, Sreedharan said. India's premier agency, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, would require eight to 10 years to complete the project. Even five years after announcing the project, not even an overbridge has been constructed, he pointed out.
The chief minister and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have been accusing the UDF and BJP of opposing Kerala's development projects. "BJP cannot accept cheating people by offering them hollow promises," he added.
Sreedharan was BJP's candidate to the State Assembly from Palakkad in the April 2021 elections. He lost to Shafi Parambil of the UDF in a nail-biting finish.