The memorandum, endorsed by over 100 people, was submitted to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the first death anniversary of noted Malayalam poet and environmentalist B Sugathakumari.

Memorandum to Kerala CM Pinarayi seeks withdrawal of Silver Line projectPC/Protest against K-Rail, Screengrab
news Protest Friday, December 24, 2021 - 13:15

On Thursday, December 23, the first death anniversary of noted Malayalam poet and environmentalist B Sugathakumari, a group of people in Kerala – including social activists, farmers, ecologists and students – endorsed a memorandum to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking to withdraw the high-speed Silver Line rail corridor project.

The Silver Line project is proposed as a rail line corridor from Kochuveli in Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north. It’s proposed as a standalone, standard gauge, electric, fully fenced rail line, covering 11 of the 14 districts and stopping at 11 stations. A joint venture of the state government and the Indian Railways, the project will be executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL or K-Rail). The state has been witnessing protests against the project, citing its harmful environmental and economic impact.

“In view of the realisation that Sugathakumari teacher (as she was fondly called) would have been at the helm of the anti-K-Rail campaign had she been alive today, the group dedicates this to her pristine memory. The memorandum is a fervent plea for a review and total withdrawal from the project. This is in view of the detailed and convincing studies by experts in various fields that have proven the economic, ecological, social and cultural fallacy and adverse impacts of the project,” the memorandum read.

The memorandum has been endorsed by over 100 people that included social activists, journalists, engineers, farmers, ecologists, disaster management experts, academicians, literary figures and students.

The Silver Line project will cover 529.45 km at a maximum speed of 200 km per hour and an average speed of 132.5 km per hour. It has been planned to be commissioned in five years at an estimated cost of Rs 63,941 crore. Those critical of the project have also been objecting to the whopping cost saying that it would incur a huge loss for the state, apart from the environmental damage.

“The slogan that has been raised across the state now is to give up the project that would land the state in a debt trap, lead to environmental damage and split the state into two. Would it be possible to turn a blind eye to the protest? Will ‘this huge project is essential for the state’ answer all the doubts, queries related to the project? Two deluges, landslides, the increase in the number of ecologically fragile areas, and the revenue loss caused by the pandemic makes the project not essential,” the memorandum further read.

Pinarayi Vijayan had in October told the Assembly that the K-Rail project was inevitable for the infrastructure of the state.

The memorandum said that the current and future generations want pure air, peaceful life and sustainable livelihood: “This is evident from the protests against the project. Give up projects like Silver Line and embrace populist developmental models.”

Earlier the Kerala Paristhithu Aikya Vedi, a forum of environmentalists, had urged the Left Democratic Front government in the state to stop the hurried implementation of the project calling it a standalone extravaganza.

The endorsees of the memorandum included journalist BRP Bhaskar, activist Civic Chandran, former head of Kerala Disaster Management Authority KG Thara, among others.

Also read:

‘Standalone extravaganza’: Green forum urges Kerala govt to stop Silverline rail project

Kerala’s Rs 63,941 cr Silver Line: A dream corridor or environmental disaster in the making?

Watch the video on how the project is controversial 

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