Kerala’s SilverLine Project
- SilverLine, a semi-high-speed railway project that would operate trains at 200 km/h between the state's northern and southern ends, has sparked protests across Kerala.
- The project, which is expected to cost Rs 63,940 crore, is considered as one of the state's largest infrastructure projects.
What is the SilverLine project?
- Thiruvananthapuram in the south and Kasaragod in the north will be connected by a 529.45-kilometer route that will pass through 11 districts and 11 stations.
- When the project is finished, it will take less than four hours to go from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram at 200 km/hr.
- It currently takes 12 hours on the present Indian Railways network.
- The project, which is being carried out by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), has a 2025 completion date.
- KRDCL, often known as K-Rail, is a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways that was established to carry out large-scale railway projects.
Need for the SilverLine project.
- Kerala's present railway infrastructure would not be able to meet future needs.
- Due to the numerous twists and turns on the current route, most trains travel at a 45 km/h average speed.
- The government argues that the SilverLine project would relieve a considerable amount of traffic off the existing section and make commuter travel quicker, resulting in less congestion on the roads and fewer accidents.
- The line will also assist to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand Ro-Ro services, create jobs, connect airports and IT corridors, and speed up the development of the cities it passes through.
Features of the project
- The project will use electric multiple unit (EMU) trains, each having a minimum of nine cars that may be expanded to a maximum of twelve.
- On a normal gauge track, the trains can travel at a top speed of 220 km/h, completing journeys in under four hours in either direction.
- According to the plan, the railway line will run from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, stopping at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam (Kakkanad), Cochin Airport, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, and Kannur.
- Three will be raised (Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, and Thrissur), one will be underground (Kozhikode), and the remainder will be at grade.
- There will be under-passages with service roads every 500 metres.
Current Status of the project
- The state administration has begun the process of land purchase following approval by the Cabinet in June of this year.
- The Cabinet has also given administrative approval for the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the government's central investment arm, to receive Rs 2,100 crore.
- Local revenue and K-Rail officials are on the ground, demarcating land and putting boundary stones as part of the first step of acquisition.
- While Kerala's chief minister has written to the Prime Minister asking his ""personal assistance"" in granting the requisite permits, the project has only received in-principle approval from the Centre.
- The line is expected to be built with finances from the Kerala government, the Central government, and international financial institutions.
Reasons for protests
- According to a petition signed by 17 state Opposition MPs, the project is a ""astronomical scam in the making"" that would further sink the state further into debt.
- According to the petition the project was financially unviable and would result in the eviction of almost 30,000 people.
- SilverLine, according to the Samiti and green groups, will destroy the environment by cutting through valuable wetlands, paddy fields, and hills.
- According to the Samiti, the construction of embankments on each side of the main section of the line will obstruct natural drainage and result in flooding during heavy rains.
- The Kerala Paristhiti Aikya Vedi, a group of ecologists, has asked the government to scrap the project and look for more sustainable alternatives.
- The project was dubbed ""ill-conceived"" and ""poorly planned"" by E. sreedharan, former Delhi Metro head.
- He stated that the current concept requires several revisions, including the fundamental track width.