Kerala

Kerala CM meets railway Minister to get final nod for SilverLine

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday called on Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnav in New Delhi to get the final sanction for the 540-km semi high speed railway, Silverline.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s ambitious flagship scheme seeks to reduce the 16-hour travel time between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod to less than four hours.

Moreover, Silverline is expected to open up the State’s verdant hinterlands to tourism and development, decongest its highways and reduce its carbon footprint.

Funding

Mr. Vijayan and Mr. Vaishnav reportedly discussed raising funds for the project from international financing agencies. The Chief Minister had said in the Assembly earlier that several agencies, such as JICA, ADB, AIBK and KFW had promised to extend low-interest and long- term loans for the project.

The State hoped to raise ₹33,700 crore. However, some of the prospective financiers for Silverline had demanded a Central Government guarantee for their credit.

Mr. Vijayan’s closed-door meeting with Mr. Vaishnav triggered speculation that the Central Government, chiefly the Union Railways, was hard-pressed to provide such a guarantee. Hence, the Centre reportedly advised the State Government to come up with alternative guarantee plans.

Total outlay

The Government has pegged Silverline’s total outlay at ₹63,941 crore. The Centre’s share is an estimated ₹2,150 crore. It has also accorded 185 ha of land valued at ₹975 crore for Silverline. The State has to find the rest of the amount. Land acquisition alone would cost the public exchequer ₹13,362 crore as per a conservative estimate. HUDCO, KIFFB and Railways will bear the cost. The Government will also issue public equity to raise funds for Silverline. The Centre has granted approval in principle for the project, and it has also sanctioned land acquisition.

BJP demand

BJP State president K. Surendran said the State Government should stop pressurising the Centre to sanction an economically and environmentally unviable project. He said Silverline was a quixotic scheme, and it would push Kerala into irredeemable debt. Moreover, Silverline provided the LDF to enable private miners to hollow out the Western Ghats under the pretext of delivering granite for the project.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan had also opposed Silverline on similar grounds.


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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 9:40:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-cm-meets-railway-minister-to-get-final-nod-for-silverline/article37128314.ece

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