SilverLine: Chennai company backs off stone laying works, K-Rail says it was sacked

A company which was assigned by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (K-Rail) to plant marker stones as part of a survey for the SilverLine semi high-speed rail project has backed off the job. Chennai-based Velciti has withdrawn from the contract following stiff protest from the people living in the area where survey stones have to be planted. The K-Rail, meanwhile, said it has terminated the contract with the company as its performance was not up to the mark.

Velciti Consulting Engineers Private Limited at Velachery in Chennai was awarded the contract to make and install the survey stones along the stretches from Kottayam to Ernakulam and Thrissur to Malappuram. Velciti is a company which provides geotechnical services for construction of highways and bridges.

The K-Rail had awarded the contract to the company in last May for a sum of Rs 41,27,834 for the works along the Kottayam-Ernakulam stretch alone. As many as 4,202 concrete poles had to be installed on the stretch. The works were to be finished within six months.

A representative of the company told Manorama News that they had sent a notice to the K-Rail three months ago saying that they were withdrawing from the contract. The company took the decision after it became convinced that it was not possible to erect stones in several areas due to stiff protest from local people. K-Rail managing director V Ajithkumar contradicted the claim saying the company was dropped due to its poor performance and inability to finish the task on time.

Local residents, supported by opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP, have been protesting against the rail corridor project by blocking officials' attempts to fix survey stones in their properties. The people fear that the installation of stones was part of the imminent land acquirement while the government has repeatedly claimed that the survey was only a part of the pre-project socio impact assessment.

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government recently got a huge boost when the Supreme Court dismissed a bunch of petitions against the ongoing survey. 

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