The Union government on Friday, February 4, informed the Kerala High Court that there were serious concerns regarding the state governmentâ€™s Silverline project, following which the court reserved its verdict on the appeals moved by the latter. The appeal was moved against a single judge order deferring a survey being carried out in connection with the project on several properties in Kottayam district till February 7.
The Silverline project is a rail development project carried out by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail). The single judge's order was pronounced on January 20, after hearing several pleas moved by property owners against the laying of concrete poles, with markings of K-Rail, in their respective parcels of land.
A bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly heard arguments on behalf of the state, K-Rail and the property owners and reserved its judgment. Assistant Solicitor General of India S Manu, appearing on behalf of the Union government and the railway board filed a statement in which the Union government said that it has received several representations raising concerns regarding acquisition of cultivable land, houses, businesses and religious structures.
According to a report in Bar and Bench, the Union government argued that the Silver Line will be an obstacle for the expansion of Angamaly railway station which operates railway sidings for the Food Corporation of India. Stating this, the Union government has sought that "the proceedings of land acquisition for this project shall be stopped at this stage, as even feasibility of the present alignment has not been agreed by the Ministry of Railways". Further, the Union government has also raised doubts over the financial feasibility of the project.
The state government, in its appeal, has contended that there was no bar on laying concrete poles as survey marks under the Kerala Survey and Boundaries Rules or the Survey and Boundaries Act. It has also stated that the survey being carried out was only for the purpose of marking properties for the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study and was not for land acquisition for the SilverLine project.
The Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine project, which is expected to reduce travel time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to around four hours, is being opposed by the opposition Congress-led UDF, which has been alleging that it was "unscientific and impractical" and will put a huge financial burden on the state. The 540 kilometre stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod would be developed by K-Rail. Starting from the state capital, SilverLine trains will have stoppages at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod.
(With PTI inputs)