Land acquisition for SilverLine should stop, Centre tells HC

‘In-principle nod is only for preparation of DPR’

Published - February 04, 2022 07:43 pm IST


The Central government on Friday tolda Division Bench of theKerala High Court that the proceedings of land acquisition for the SilverLine semi-high speed rail corridor projectshould be stopped at this stage as, even the feasibility of the present alignment has not been agreed upon by the Union Ministry of Railways.When the State government appeal against a single judge’s directive to deferthe conduct of survey of land for the project came up for hearing, S. Manu, Assistant Solicitor General of India, submitted that the Centre had received many representations against the project.

The major issue related to destroying thousands of hectares of cultivable land,20,000 houses,shops, and other establishments. Besides, the SilverLine would be an obstacle to the expansion of Angamaly railway station which operated for the Food Corporation of India.He submitted that the detailed project report (DPR)submittedby Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail) was under the scrutiny by the Railway Board. K-Rail had planned this corridor parallel to the existing track in approximately 200 km length where 10-15 m railway land was being utilised by K-Rail for the proposed corridor.

No nod for DPR

In fact, grant of In-principle approval only meantan approval to go ahead for preparation of the DPR which brings out the complete details of the project, including finance. Once the DPR was submitted, the taking up of the project or otherwise was decided. Approval of the DPR has not been granted so far, he submitted.The financial viability of the railway project of ₹63,941 crore was questionable. Since the Ministry of Railways was a joint venture partner in K-Rail, the debt component of ₹33,700 crore would finally come on the Ministry of Railways as debt servicing, which was not possible with mainly passenger traffic.

This will also be examined and firmed up after the finalisation of technical parameters. Even if the State government was willing to provide a debt repayment guarantee, the Ministry of Railways had to examine whether the project is financially viable per se, the Centre submitted.After acceptance by the Ministry of Railways, a firmed-up DPR would be sent to NITI Aayog for appraisal. The DPR was not yet accepted by the Ministry and hence had not been sent to NITI Aayog. The project required to be appraised by the expanded board of Railways which was an inter-ministerial body consisting of members of the Railway Board and officers of the Ministry of Finance.

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