SilverLine survey suspended in Kottayam, Ernakulam as protests intensify

SilverLine protest
Congress activists block road at Mamala in Ernakulam with uprooted survey stones. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

The Kerala government officials engaged in an initial survey for the proposed SilverLine semi high speed rail corridor project were forced to suspend their work in Kottayam and Ernakulam districts on Saturday following intense protest by local people.

People continued to protest at Nattassery in Kottayam and Mamala in Ernakulam as K-Rail and revenue officials tried to plant marker stones in the plots falling in the proposed alignment for the mega project. Different parts of Kerala have been witnessing similar protests by people who fear they would lose the ownership of their land once the marker stones are installed despite government's assurances about a lucrative compensation package.

At Mamala and Nattassery, the survey procedures were suspended by officials. The officials' move was to conduct a satellite survey at Mamala.

Soon after the survey works resumed at Kuzhiyalippady near Nattassery, people uprooted the marker stones installed by the officials. As many as 12 stones were planted in the morning itself. Local people, headed by municipal councillors, uprooted the stones saying that the survey procedures will not be allowed without necessary documents.

The councillors engaged in a heated argument with the tehsildar. The local people dumped the marker stones in the vehicle in which they were brought.

A group of local people, headed by Congress district president Nattakom Suresh, took out a march to Perumbayikad village office carrying some survey stones and installed them in front of the government office.

At Mamala, people dumped some marker stones in a pond nearby.

Trouble has been brewing up in the state since the past two weeks when the K-Rail officials began the marking of proposed alignment for the project to conduct a social impact assessment study, and soon widespread protests started all across the state. The protests have increased after the Congress and the BJP joined in.

"There is no need to plant marker stones for conducting a socio-impact assessment as per Surveys and Boundaries Act. The plots need to be marked only. The government is going ahead with the land acquisition procedures in the name of socio-impact assessment," Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan reiterated on Saturday.

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