Kerala

Govt. to take GPS route for K-Rail survey

Plan for geotagging to determine alignment to circumvent protests against project

Thiruvananthapuram

The State government has proposed GPS-based geotagging survey to determine the proposed K-Rail’s (SilverLine) alignment to circumvent community resistance and political obstacles to the ambitious semi-high speed railway project.

SilverLine, which promises to whisk commuters from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in four hours, had run into strong headwinds after encountering hostility from residents who feared the rail transit line would displace them.

The worry prompted them to turn out in significant numbers to oppose the laying of the “detested” yellow-hued concrete markers that demarcated the prospective line.

The decision

In a communique to K-Rail and land revenue authorities, Additional Chief Secretary B. Abdul Nassar recommended using GPS devices to affix geographic coordinates of the proposed railway track on a digital map instead of planting the disputable markers on private land.

The government appeared anxious to prevent anti-SilverLine protests from becoming a rallying cry for the Opposition in the run-up to the Thrikkakara Assembly byelection on May 31.

The administration had also come under pressure after the High Court questioned the propriety of installing K-Rail markers on private property without the owner’s consent.

The government has denied that the markers were for land acquisition. It said the pillars enabled a social impact study to gauge various K-Rail connected public concerns, including displacement of residents, SilverLine's impact on livelihood and other troublesome issues related to the proposed rezoning of land abutting the track to create a buffer stretch.

Opposition charge

The Congress and Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) perceived a political victory in what they termed as the government’s “retreat”.

Leader of the Opposition V.D . Satheesan described the move to "abandon" the laying of the "hated" K-Rail markers as a triumph for the protesters.

Mr. Vijayan's obstinancy had wilted in the heat of public wrath he encountered on the byelection campaign trail. The government should withdraw the cases registered against K-Rail protesters, Mr. Satheesan said.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan portrayed the government's "backpedalling" as a people's victory. Mr. Vijayan feared rejection in Thrikkakara if he pursued the K-Rail agenda, he said.

Anti-Silverline activist M.P. Babu Raj said it was early to claim success. The GPS survey might be a tactical retreat to protect the ruling front's interest in the pivotal byelection, he said.


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Printable version | May 16, 2022 9:18:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-to-take-gps-route-for-k-rail-survey/article65420477.ece