Pathanamthitta: The CPM leaders from Pathanamthitta raised their apprehensions over the proposed SilverLine project at the district-level presentation of the project held by the state government and the K-Rail before an invited audience. The concerns were mainly over the quantum of compensation to be given and the environmental impact of the project.
CPM district committee member Philipose Thomas raised the question of the exact amount of compensation to be given to those who are going to be rehabilitated.
K-Rail Managing Director V Ajith Kumar answered that it would not be possible to tell the exact figures to be given as compensation.
He said that the compensation in rural areas would be four times higher than the market value while in urban areas it will be two times higher than market value.
But an unstatisfied Philipose Thomas repeated his question about the exact amount to be given. Ajith Kumar tried to sidestep the issue by saying that the Revenue Department was dealing with the compensation package.
Philipose Thomas again aired his question. Health Minister Veena George ended the discussion by saying that the chief minister had already spoke about the compensation.
CPM district secretariat member Sanal Kumar asked about the environmental impact the project will have on the Western Ghats due to quarrying.
CPM Eraviperoor area committee member V Rajeev asked why there was not railway station allotted for Pathanamthitta district in the proposed project.
He demanded that a station should be allotted in Pathanamthiita in stead of the proposed Mulakuzha railway station in Alappuzha district.
Ajith Kumar turned down the suggestion saying that it would lead to escalation of the project cost.
To a question on why DPR is not made public yet, he said that there is no need to make public the DPR at this stage for such a mega project.
NCP State general secretary Mathew George wanted to know how the government is going to allay the people's apprehensions on the rehabilitation and compensation issues.
He pointed to the adverse environmental changes that occurred in Vizhinjam after huge quantities of granite were deposited for port construction.
Ajith Kumar said that the granite needed for K-Rail project would be brought from outside the state.
The SilverLine Project entails the construction of a 530-km dedicated rail corridor to run semi high-speed trains. It is expected to reduce the travel time between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod to around four hours. The Kerala government is trying to dispel fears about the project by organising district-level meets wherein the officials of the implementing agency, K-Rail, will answer queries and clear doubts on various aspects of the project.
K-Rail denotes the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited, a joint venture Company under the Government of Kerala and the Ministry of Railways.