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SilverLine in Kerala: What is it? How did it lead to protests? The facts you need to know

The Silverline project has caused political turmoil in Kerala for quite some time. Kerala’s ambitious project has been called the ‘biggest’ project in the state by media reports. The high-speed railway project has received a strong wave of opposition from the state Opposition and union ministers.

Recently, Union Minister V Muraleedharan claimed that the rail project would be a disaster for the state. According to the Minister, the project will displace 30,000 families in Kerala. K-Rail Silver Line Project is unviable, said Muralidharan, because Kerala Government has not conducted any study into the project. According to him, Pinarayi Vijayan’s government in Kerala unscientifically planned the project and it has been an ecological disaster.

 SilverLine: What is it?
The SilverLine project, led by Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, aims to connect the state’s north and south ends with a high-speed train line. Kerala government claims that the trains running at 45 km/hour need upgrading. Pinarayi Vijayan plans to establish a direct train route between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargode, which will reduce travel time from 10 to 4 hours, with trains running at 200 km/h. The Union Ministry of Railways intends to build the line. The budget for the project will be 63,941 Cr.

Nine stations will be on the route between Thiruvanathapuram and Kasargode, including the airport at Cochin. Project length is estimated at 529.45 km, with a standard gauge of 1435 mm. Construction on the project began in 2018, and it is expected to be completed in 5 years, from 2020 to 2025.

Protests against the project
Environmental concerns are being raised against the SilverLine project in the state. BJP and Congress have both intensified their protests against SilverLine. The budget session of the Kerala Assembly ended on a stormy note last Friday when the Congress-led UDF staged a boycott in the House, alleging police ‘high-handedness’ against people protesting against the state government’s flagship SilverLine rail corridor project.

According to Indian ecologist Madhav Gadgil, the project will have obvious and indirect effects on the population. According to him, the poor will suffer the consequences of all this. The voices of protest raised by people will not be in vain.

E Sreedharan, the ‘metro man’ in India, pointed out small details in the project, saying, ‘all along the sides of the proposed track, an eight-feet-high wall, which will cost Rs 8 crore for one kilometer, has to be constructed, and there has to be a mesh on its top, but this is not mentioned in the DPR (Detailed Project Report)’. The DPR does not mention flyovers or subways. There are some problems with land acquisition, as some of the landowners are unhappy with the state government over price issues.

SilverLine’s land acquisition
In a recent statement, Kerala’s CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) will implement the SilverLine project and that the state government would pay four times the market price for acquiring the land. The Chief Minister was speaking at a gathering on the occasion of the inauguration of the CPIM Puthur local committee office.

Silverline will be implemented by the LDF government. There have been attempts to mislead the public. CM Vijayan added, ‘It is only natural that people whose land is being acquired for the project will be disappointed. But I want to tell you that the government will pay four times the market price as compensation. We should not support such narrow-minded politics’.


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