State to take up SilverLine with PM

Unfazed by the volte-face by the Ministry of Railways, the State Government will again pursue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the ambitious Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi high-speed rail (SilverLine) project.

The ₹63,941-crore project of the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail) is a joint venture company under the State Government and the Ministry of Railways. Now, questions are being raised on the decision of the Centre not to bear liability of the foreign loans for the project. Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had conveyed the decision to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in New Delhi last week.

Incidentally, when Mr. Vijayan met Mr. Modi in July, the latter had promised support for multi-crore projects in Kerala. The proposed 530-km corridor with 11 stations had also received in-principle approval. “This sudden policy change appears to be more of a political decision,” John Brittas, Rajya Sabha MP, said on Tuesday.

Mr. Brittas, as a newly elected member, had accompanied Mr. Vijayan during his meetings with the Prime Minister and Union Ministers.

“Now Opposition Congress and State Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are against the project. Perhaps they do not want the Left Democratic Front Government to get mileage out of this,” he said adding acquisition of land is minimal when compared to development of highways in the State.

The Chief Minister had informed the Assembly that 9,314 buildings, including residential houses, would have to be demolished and 1,383 ha would be required for rehabilitation and other purposes. Of this, 1,198 ha is in the possession of private parties.

“Previously, the Centre wanted State governments to be involved in rail projects for economic reasons. That is why it still encourages joint venture initiatives. Thus, in the case of the K-Rail project, the Ministry of Railways cannot abdicate its responsibility in dealing with transportation needs of the State. Significantly, the Ministry has been pointing out that freight transportation is suffering financial losses and that railway lines in Kerala are saturated,” Mr. Brittas said.

The Centre, he said, had been always stressing on revenue generated by the project on the GDP of the State. “For every rupee spent, the impact will be ₹10 on the State’s economy, leading to employment opportunities and increased demand for domestic production,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 10:59:08 PM |

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