Project approval for the state government's ambitious SilverLine project is in the final stages, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday, October 4, during the Question Hour of the state Assembly. Responding to queries such as whether the detailed project report and a feasibility study were approved and an Environment Impact Assessment carried out, the CM said the Union government's inspections of the semi-high speed rail line project was progressing. The SilverLine project, which is expected to reduce travel time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to around four hours, has already been opposed by the Congress which has claimed that it was "unscientific and impractical" and will put a huge financial burden of around Rs 1.24 lakh crore on the state.
During the question hour, in response to the queries on the SilverLine by MLAs Mani C Kappan, PJ Joseph, Anoop Jacob and Mons Joseph, the Chief Minister said the rail line's detailed design of the project, which is expected to cost Rs 63,941 crore, has been submitted to the Ministry of Railways, Finance and the Union Cabinet for final approval. He also said that the project has been approved by the Railway Ministry, the Judicial Commission and the Department of Expenditure of the Union government and it has now been forwarded to the Union Finance Ministry for a foreign loan of Rs 33,700 crore.
The CM said that the screening committee of the Ministry of Finance will examine the project report and then place it before foreign financial institutions for loans. As per the joint venture agreement between the Kerala and the Union governments, if there is any financial loss in the project, it will be borne in proportion to the share in the project, he said.
The CM also said that the screening committee of the Ministry of Finance considered the project and has asked the state government to give an undertaking that if the project's special purpose vehicle â€” K-Rail â€” fails to repay the loan, the state shall take up the liability. This aspect is being examined by the state government, he said.
The Congress had recently claimed that the 532 kilometre stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod has not yet received approval of the central government and K-Rail -- a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Railway Ministry for developing railway infrastructure in the southern state.
Starting from the state capital, SilverLine trains will have stoppages at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod.