SilverLine does not have approval yet, DPR incomplete: Union Railway Minister

Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

New Delhi: Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday said the Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine project has not got approval yet.

Projects above Rs 1,000 crore needs approval from the Union Cabinet. SilverLine has not got it yet, the minister informed Attingal MP Adur Prakash in response to a question.

The approval can only be granted after examining the financial and technical aspects of the project. However, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted by the Kerala government remains incomplete, he pointed out.

The minister's statement comes amid Kerala government's efforts to launch a national campaign touting the SilverLine project as a symbol of Kerala's development model despite widespread protests against it.

Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his approval for the SilverLine project, which is expected to significantly reduce the time taken to travel the length of Kerala.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Vijayan said the PM was sympathetic to the state's demand for sanctioning the SilverLiver project.

He said the PM had promised to talk to the railway minister.

Now, as protests mushroom across the state, it seems concerns are brewing within the LDF ranks as well.

"The project should be implemented only after addressing the concerns of the people. Not everyone opposing SilverLine is against the government or anti-Left," said K Prakash Babu, the assistant state secretary of CPI.

"Officials should enlighten people about the ecological issues related to SilverLine and the environmental impact study," he added.

The CPI is an ally of CPM and a constituent in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala.

The boundary stone-laying process, crucial to conduct a social impact study of the contentious SilverLine project, has been delayed or stopped at various places.

The Congress-led opposition, which deems the project as one that will plunge the state into further ecological and economic turmoil, is spearheading the protest.

The 529.45-km-long SilverLine railway project is expected to reduce the journey time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod from 12 hours to just 4 hours.

According to the DPR published on January 15, the estimated cost of the SilverLine project is Rs 63,941 crores. It is expected to be complete only by 2025.

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