On Saturday, people opposed to the controversial Kerala Silver Line project protested and removed the stone laid down in the private property for the project in Nattassery, Kottayam district, in Kerala.
Earlier on Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government won't stop the work of its highly-ambitious SilverLine project.
He said, "There are attempts to mislead people. The project is for the future of our children. If asked privately, Congress leaders would also say that the project is necessary."
The SilverLine project has attracted huge controversy in Kerala, with experts reportedly saying that the project will displace thousands of families and will also damage the environment.
According to K-Rail Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithi, the project is not economically viable. The opposition parties and also Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw have voiced concerns over the project.
The proposed 529.45-km line will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north, covering 11 districts through 11 stations. When the project is completed, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours at 200 km/hr.
On the existing Indian Railways network, it now takes 12 hours. The deadline for the project, being executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), is 2025. KRDCL, or K-Rail, is a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways created to execute big railway projects.
Political parties such as the Congress, BJP and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) as well as citizen outfits such as K-Rail SilverLine Viruddha Janakeeya Samiti have been spearheading separate protests.
A petition signed by 17 Opposition MPs from the state said the project was an “astronomical scam in the making” and would sink the state further into debt. The petition, addressed to the Union Railways Minister, said the project was financially unviable and would lead to displacement of over 30,000 families.
The Samiti and green activists allege that SilverLine would cause great environmental harm as its route cuts through precious wetlands, paddy fields and hills. The Samiti said the building of embankments on either side of the major portion of the line will block natural drainage and cause floods during heavy rains.
The Kerala Paristhiti Aikya Vedi, a forum of ecology experts, has urged the government to abandon the project and explore sustainable solutions.