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K-Rail: A guise to convert 10,757 hectares of forest into townships

K-Rail: A guise to convert 10,757 hectares of forest into townships

Thiruvananthapuram: One of the controversial hot cakes brewing up in the Kerala public sphere for the last few weeks took a drastic shift. SilverLine, one of the premier projects proposed by Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, has undergone severe criticism, citing the negative impact on nature and financial feasibility.

Kerala has suffered from natural disasters, including floods in the recent past. This project leads to the mass destruction of the forest. In the wake of ongoing protest, the Kerala government has launched repressive measures to crush down the dissent. The recent reports reveal the shocking details of the upcoming project.

Mass deforestation is underway in order to make K-Rail a profitable venture, 10,757 hectares of forest in Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode districts and 1,227.11 hectares of revenue land in Kannur and Kasaragod districts will be converted into townships to make way for commercial utilisation.

The details in regard to deforestation are as follows: 2,866.69 hectares in Kodumann in Pathanamthitta, 699 ha in Thannithottil, 3,776.50 ha in Kalady Group in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, 435.9 hectares in Nilambur, 435.94 hectares in Mannarkad Silent Valley, and 943 hectares in Kozhikode Perambra will be taken over by the Forest Department. It is also proposed to acquire 1,227 hectares from the Revenue Department in the Cheemeni area in Kannur and Kasaragod districts.

The letter sent in 2109 by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail) MD Ajith Kumar to Principal Secretary of Motor Vehicles Department suggests that in order to start the projects like the Smart City, the afore-mentioned procedure to develop townships around the project area must be followed.

French company SYSTRA Group carried out research for the project and was approved in 2019. CPI minister headed the Forest Department at the time and none raised questions against the project. Page 49 of this study bears clear evidence of the government's plan to protect the vested interests of multi-national giants in the private sector.

Acres in Kasaragod and the surrounding areas which connect the SilverLine are expected to be used for large-scale private investment. It envisages constructing high-speed roads to these places and to the 2,065 ha of its own in Kasaragod.

And around the so developed forest areas, large-scale private real estate investments will be introduced aiming at resultant development.

The SilverLine is one of the biggest projects in the history of the state that enables a semi-speed train connecting Trivandrum to Kasaragod and the northern part of Kerala. CM Pinarayi Vijayan in October stated that Silverline is in its final stages of approval.

However, the opposition has been at the forefront in criticising the project, pointing out the negative impact on nature as well as the financial viability.

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TAGS:K RailSilver Line Project
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