Railway Board’s final nod for SilverLine after examining DPR, Centre tells HC

The Central government on Thursday informed the Kerala High Court that the Railway Board would take afinal decision on the SilverLine project submittedby Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL),a joint venture between Railways and the State government, only after completing the examination of the Detailed Project Report (DPR ).The submission was made by S. Manu, Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASG),when a few writ petitions against the survey being conducted for the project came up for hearing before Justice Devan Ramachandran.The ASG further submitted that the KRDCL had been advised to provide detailed technical documents such as alignment plan, particulars of railway land and private land, cross over of the existing railway network, and affected railway assets for the detailed examination of the project. In fact, further consideration of the project was possible once the examination of the DPR wasover and its results were firmed up, including the financial viability of the project and its appraisal by NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Finance, he added.

In-principal nod

Senior Government Pleader T.B. Hood submitted that the DPR was prepared based on an aerial survey. It was conducted through the government agency Kerala Remote Sensing andEnvironmental Centre for identifying land for the project. In fact, the project had been given in-principle approval by the Railway Board. A 2016 official memo of the Union Finance Ministry said that once the in-principle approval was given to a project,all further steps, including land acquisition proceedings, should be taken. Infact, the UnionFinance Ministry had instructed the government to expedite the steps for the project. He also submitted that the present survey was meant for demarcating the boundary of the project alignment for undertaking the Social ImpactAssessment study.The court wondered how could the DPR be preparedbased on an aerial survey. It also observed that it failed to understand why a survey under the Survey and Boundaries Act was now being conductedas the State had submitted thatthe DPR had already been prepared and in-principle approval had been given by the Railway Board.

Further answers

The court added that the court would require certain “adscititious answers” from the government, particularly as to the manner in which the DPR was prepared; the steps for survey conducted before the DPR was settled; and whetherthe DPR couldhave been prepared without a proper physical survey.

The court also ordered that the steps for the survey of properties of the petitioners in the cases before the court be deferred till the next posting date. However, the steps under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 could be continued by the competent authorities.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 1:27:36 pm |