December 27, 2021 - 8:37 am

A Controversial Project

    Kerala's silver line project which aims to run a semi high speed train that envisages trains running at 200 km between the state's Southern (Thiruvananthapuram) and Northern (Kasaragod) ends has been facing severe opposition from environmentalists and those fitting displacement. The project, estimated to cost ₹63,940,crore is billed as one of the biggest flagship infrastructure plans being pushed by the Kerala government.

    The proposed 529.45-km line will cover 11 districts through 11 stations. When the project is completed, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours. On the existing Indian Railway network, it now takes 12 hours. The deadline for the project, being executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), is 2025. KRDCL or K-Rail, is a joint venture between the Kerala Government and the Union Ministry of Railway created to execute big railway projects.

    The government claims the SilverLine project can take a significant load of traffic off the existing stretch and make travel faster for commuters which in turn will reduce congestion on roads and help reduce accidents. The government claims the line will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help in expansion of Ro-Ro services, produce employment opportunities, integrate airports and IT corridors, and enable faster development of cities it passes through.

    The Samiti and green activists allege that SilverLine would cause great environmental harm as its route cuts through precious wetlands, paddy fields and hills. The building of embankments on either side of the major portion of the line will block natural drainage and cause flood during heavy rains. The project would be a hydrological disaster as it would prevent water flow from the Western Ghats to the Arabian sea during floods and monsoons. Metroman and Sridharan also launched scathing attack on the conceptualization of the proposed K-Rail project, saying it was "ill-conceived', lacked technical perfection and is being 'badly executed'. Ever since the SilverLine Project was first connected, it has been mired in trouble. The project pass through successive state governments in the last 12 years until some progress began in the last two, at least on paper. The stages being converted covered now - documents passing back and forth between the State and Union governments - has created doubts and concerns among a good number of activists, worried over what it will do to fragile ecology of the State. Kerala requires a sustainable model which can be based on lessons the state learn from the consecutive flood and related natural disasters.