Two rail projects may have a bearing on electoral prospects of some candidates in Kerala

While the Anti-K-Rail People’s Samiti says it will not support candidates standing for SilverLine project, the Sabari action council says it will vote only for those who stand for the old Sabari rail project

Updated - March 31, 2024 09:18 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2024 08:42 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Two women sticking a poster on the compound wall of their house in central Kerala ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Two women sticking a poster on the compound wall of their house in central Kerala ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Two rail projects are likely to influence the electoral prospects of some candidates in Kerala. Though the Left Democratic Front (LDF) came to power in the State for the second consecutive term in 2021 with a thumping majority, the succeeding years have witnessed massive public protests against the proposed semi high-speed rail project SilverLine.

The Centre, which gave in-principal approval for the SilverLine project, is now dragging its feet after the State witnessed massive public protests against the project. However, the project is still under the consideration of the Railway Board, which has been holding consultations with the Southern Railway over the viability of the project. The anti-SilverLine protest spearheaded by the Anti-K-Rail People’s Samiti was in the sleep mode for quite some time after the Centre decided to go slow on the project.

An anti-K-Rail poster struck between the campaign posters of the UDF and BJP candidates in Thrissur Parliament constituency.

An anti-K-Rail poster struck between the campaign posters of the UDF and BJP candidates in Thrissur Parliament constituency.

However, the executive committee of the anti-K-rail panel that met in Thiruvananthapuram recently announced that they would campaign against the candidates who support the project. “We have held the initial round of poster campaign against the candidates who support the project. Further, a march was taken out with the slogan ‘No votes for K-rail supporters’ from the Kottayam Collectorate to Gandhi Square on March 23,” said S. Rajeevan, general convener of the panel.

Sabari project

On the other hand, the State Federation of Sabari Action Councils has been exerting pressure on the State government, demanding that the Sabari rail project that was announced more than two decades ago be implemented and it be extended to Vizhinjam from Sabarimala. Stung by the financial crisis, the State government has been going slow on the project despite the Railway Board’s request in December last year to issue a consent letter expressing its willingness to shoulder half of the project cost as committed earlier. 

The project involving the construction of a 111-km line from Angamaly to Erumely near Sabarimala was sanctioned in the Railway Budget for 1997-98 at a cost of ₹550 crore. As per the revised estimate of the project, the project cost has gone up to ₹3,810.69 crore. Though the State is of the view that the stalled project needs to be revived, the project is still stuck in red tape due to the poor financial situation of the State.

Meanwhile, Railways are exploring the possibility of drawing a rapid rail transit route from Chengannur to Pampa, envisaged through elevated structures and tunnels. According to the office-bearers of the Sabari action council, only those who stand for the old Sabari rail project will be given support in the high-range areas, as the project is expected to bring vast stretches on the eastern side of Kerala onto the rail map. 

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