'Give priority to roads, SilverLine is pro-rich', says Sasthra Sahitya Parishad


Kannur: The influential leftist organisation Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) continued its opposition to the CPM-led Kerala Government's SilverLine Project to build the 529.45-km semi-high speed rail line linking Thiruvananthapuram with Kasaragod. It has now termed the project pro-rich after earlier slamming the laying of boundary stones for the rail corridor as undemocratic.

The common man is not going to benefit from the project, Parishad said, while citing its own survey findings.

The project has been envisaged keeping in mind those owing personal vehicles, frequent travellers in AC coaches and frequent fliers. Of the people who are expected to depend on SilverLine, 33 percent own personal vehicles, 24 percent travel by AC coaches and 8 percent are frequent fliers, the KSSP stated.

The Parishad has come out with the findings after conducting a detailed study involving over 1,000 people. At present Kerala has 1.44 crore vehicles. If children are kept out, one in every two people in Kerala has a personal vehicle. Therefore, Parishad feels that the top priority needs to be given to the roads.

With the completion of the doubling of the existing rail line and introduction of an electronic signalling system, the speed of the existing trains would increase significantly. More MEMU services need to be introduced between important cities and towns for putting in place facilities for short- distance travellers. In order to set up the electronic signalling system, all that is required is Rs 6,000 crore and two years’ time, the Parishad argued.

The government should consider the SilverLine project only after putting in place all these facilities in the state, KSSP urged.

What all was considered in KSSP study

The Parishad carried out the study considering three major parameters regarding land acquisition for the project.

It carried out an exclusive study about the environmental problems that are likely to crop when land is acquired for a width of 30 metre, 50 m and 200 m.

If 30 m land is acquired then the number of buildings that would be demolished would come to 8,510, for 50 m 11,930 buildings and 200 m it would 58,336 buildings. Of these 80 to 90 percent are houses.

In that scenario if 30 m land is acquired, then 7,408 houses will have to be demolished; for 50 m, the number would go up to 10,362; and for 200 m the number of houses to be demolished would be a whopping 50,926.

The forest land to be acquired as part of the project is 76.81-acre, red mud and hillocks 1639.2 acre, mangroves 335.28-acre, agricultural land 1275-acre, barren land 1519 acres, wet land 1456.7 acre and wells and ponds 75.58 acre

Real estate-government lobby nexus

The KSSP also alleged that the real estate groups which are under the control of the government are growing in the state.

Two Special Purpose Vehicles are being constituted for the project. One for SilverLine rail corridor and the second for development of stations focussing on urban development.

Real estate lobbies have already purchased land in and around the proposed stations, it claimed. 

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