K-Rail in court: HC poses more questions to Kerala govt on SilverLine project


Kochi: The Kerala High Court has posed more questions to the state government about its ambitious SilverLine semi high-speed rail corridor project. Justice Devan Ramachandran on Thursday sought to know how did the government conduct preliminary survey in its bid to acquire land for the railway line even before the detailed project report (DPR) was drafted.

The high court also asked the government how was the DPR prepared and what aspects were considered while preparing the document. It also wanted to know on the basis of which law the government has been conducting the land survey. To this the Kerala government's counsel said that it was being carried out under the Kerala Survey and Boundaries Act.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions assailing several steps initiated by the state government in its endeavour to execute the project even as it is yet to get sanction from the Centre.

The court asked the government to file a detailed reply to the questions relating to the DPR and posted the hearing to February 7.

The court has put a stay on conducting survey on the properties of the petitioners until next hearing.

The court asked the government how could it prepare the DPR based on aerial survey and issue an order to acquire 955 hectares of land without conducting physical survey.

The state government told the court that the Centre has given its in-principle nod to implement the project. 

K-Rail's response

The Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail), the state-central government joint venture for implementing the project, conveyed to the court its concern that latter's certain remarks may cause a setback to the project. The company told the court that 200 survey poles have been uprooted.

Central govt's clarification

During the last hearing of the matter, the court had asked the Centre to clarify its stand regarding the project to clear up the ambiguity revolving around the issue.

In response, Assistant Solicitor General of India S Manu submitted a one-page clarification received from the Centre which stated that a decision on the matter was yet to be finalised, legal news website Live Law reported.

"The Centre also explained that the KRDCL has been advised to provide detailed technical documents such as an alignment plan, particulars of railway land and private land, manner of crossing over the existing railway network, depicting affected railway assets through Zonal Railway, for a detailed examination of the project to arrive at a conclusion," the Live Law report said.

Congress protest

In a bid to negate opposition to the project Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet collegaues have initiated a series of outreach programmes at various district headquarters where an invited audience is explained about the project. On Thursday, angry Congress workers protested in front of the meeting venue at Kannur when State Local Self-Government Minister M V Govindan was explaining the project.  

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