Staff Reporter

Says it will have a bad impact on environment

  • `470.86 hectares of agriculture land to be acquired'
  • `27 tunnels envisaged will upset the water table'

    KOTTAYAM: The Karshaka Raksha Samithi, an action council formed to prevent implementation of the Angamaly-Azhutha railway line, has called for dropping the proposal and developing a road network of national highway standard as an alternative.

    It has decided to intensify agitations in support of the demand. Members of the council will stage a dharna in front of the Kottayam Railway Station on Thursday. More direct agitations will follow, the council says.

    N. Krishnamoorthy, chairman of the samithi, and Jose K. Kallivayalil, convener, told presspersons here on Monday that the project would be a `white elephant.'

    They said the project, proposed in 1997, with an estimated budget of Rs.550 crore for the first phase, was to be completed at a cost of Rs.2,000 crore. The annual return estimated was just 12 crore. Viability of the 147.5-km line took a dent when the proposal for the Kottayam-Erumeli line had been dropped.

    The project envisaged 17 stations. The line had to be terminated at Azhutha, nearly 20 km down Erumeli, on account of the environmental impact.

    They said Railway authorities had not given any specific reason for dropping the Kottayam-Erumeli proposal. Claims made by those who fought against that line were applicable in this case too. With 27 tunnels envisaged in the high ranges, the project would upset the water table.

    To implement this project, 470.86 hectares of agricultural land would be acquired. The land, rich in cash crops and vegetables, was carved into plantations with areas ranging from 50 cents to two acres. Given the paltry sum earmarked for the project, the farmers might not get the market value for the land as compensation.

    They expressed suspicion that if the project was declared unviable after land acquisition, authorities would use this land for rehabilitation of squatters removed from Railway land.

    The proposed line passes through one of the most sensitive areas, as it had recorded an earthquake of 6.1 magnitude in the Richter scale in 2001.

    The samithi leaders said the survey being conducted for the purpose was not scientific, and alleged massive corruption on the part of the agency doing it.

    It was against this backdrop that they were intensifying their struggle, the leaders said.