CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a news article published in The New Indian Express on the Silverline project. He says “Travel time was never a factor behind Kerala’s poor show in industrial growth. Hence, reducing it won’t make any difference.”

The Kerala Cabinet’s nod has come as a shot in the arm for the Rs. 64,000-crore Silverline project.
However, families in different parts of the state who will be displaced by the project’s alignment remain apprehensive about the whole idea and many of them have formed action councils to protest against it. They alleged the project was planned without considering their concerns.

“Officials have failed miserably in understanding the feelings of families who will be directly affected. The project will severely impact the state economically and ecologically,” alleged Anil Kumar M A, general convener of Save Kerala, High-speed Railway Action Council, which has been organising protests in central Kerala.

“The project will mainly affect the families in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur. Though Kerala Rail Development Corporation (KRDCL) has projected the eviction of 10,000 families in total, the real number will be much higher in Kottayam itself. We will continue protesting until they change the alignment,” said Anil.

Experts too have questioned the need of the project. “Not just financial viability, but even the necessity of the project should be reviewed. Travel time was never a factor behind Kerala’s poor show in industrial growth. Hence, reducing it won’t make any difference. Passenger estimates are also far-fetched. It is possible to achieve industrial growth without burdening future generations,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research. He said better connectivity could be achieved by completing the doubling of existing lines.

“The pending doubling works can be completed for Rs 4,000 crore. If that is done, we can augment services and attain better speed. We will also have four railway lines through Alappuzha and Kottayam and the travel time between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram can be reduced from four-and-a-half hours to three,” he said.

Meanwhile, KRDCL officials said the people’s concerns will be addressed. The change in alignment has also reduced the number of affected families, they said.

“While it is not practical to reach out to every family, KRDCL is ready to have dialogues with their representatives. We have finalised the alignment to ensure it impacts the least number of people. Still, a few families will be affected,” said KRDCL managing director V Ajith Kumar.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on June 29, 2020. Click here to read

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