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Kerala’s ambitious silverline project

We’ve always hear how time is a precious resource, and today’s competitive economy just seems to be an iteration of that fact. In today’s world, everyone is rushing to get to their work on time, because efficient time management leads to success. But imagine getting late due to improper transportation. Seems bad, right? That’s why every country is making efforts to improve its transportation and infrastructure. India too has made a lot of efforts to improve its transportation and infrastructure facilities. The Silverline project recently started in Kerala is one such project. The project nearly costs Rs 63,940 crores and is said to be one of the biggest infrastructure started by the ruling government of Kerala, the Left Democratic Front(LDF). The Kerala government gave permission to the Silverline Project last week to begin acquiring land.

What actually is the Silverline project? 

It is a flagship semi high-speed railway project which aims at reducing travel time between the northernmost end which is Kasaragod and the southernmost end Thiruvananthapuram of the Kerala state by providing a high-speed railway corridor. The line is said to be nearly 529.45 km long and will cover 11 districts through 11 stations. After the project gets completed, one can travel from the southernmost part to the northernmost part of the state in less than 4 hours which is a lot less than the time taken by the current railway network, which is 12 hours. The reason behind this will be the trains traveling at 200km/hr. on the high-speed corridor.

The project, as aforementioned, nearly costs Rs 63,940 crores which is a huge sum of money. You might be wondering if there was a need for the development of a high-speed corridor in the state. Well, the answer is a big yes. For a lot of time, it has been argued by the urban policy experts that the current railway network is inefficient in the state. The trains currently travel at a speed of 45 km/hr due to the already existing curves and bend on the existing stretch. The government of the state claims that the development of a semi high-speed railway corridor is the need of the hour. How? It can a huge load of traffic off the existing railway system and will surely make travel faster and easier for travelers. Not only this, the project will therefore reduce the congestion on roads and help reduce accidents and other unforeseen events. All of this concludes the necessity of introducing this project, even if it requires a huge sum of money.

About the features of the project:

According to the reports of Kerala Rail or popularly known as K-Rail, the trains under this project will have an Electric Multiple Unit(EMU) with preferably nine cars which can seat a maximum of 675 passengers in business and standard class setting. The nine cars can be extended to twelve cars if needed. The maximum speed that a train will be able to travel at is 220 km, completing the journey in either direction is less than 4 hours. Sounds really impressive, right? The number of stations proposed in the project is 11, which includes two terminals, three of them will be elevated. One station will be underground and the rest will be at the normal level. Another feature of this project is that at every 500 meters of the corridor, there will be under passages, and provision of the service road will also be there. The government has made several other claims too. According to them, the railway line will help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will help in expansion of roll off and roll on services, generate employment, and will lead to faster development of cities.

Talking about the alignment of the project, as reported by K-Rail, the railway line will start from Thiruvananthapuram and will have stations in the following places- Kollum, Chengannur, Kottayam, Kakkand, Cochin, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and will end at Kasaragod. The station of Kozhikode will be underground. Another good news is that the Cochin International Airport Limited has already given 1-acre land for the construction of the station there.

Current scenario

The project git a vital boost after the approval of land acquisition given by the state cabinet. A total of 1,383 hectares of land is needed out of which 1,198 will be privately owned land. Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, the chief investment board of the government will provide a 2,100 crore fund for the implementation of the project. The funds required for the project are likely to be met by equity funds of the Kerala government, Centre, and borrowings from multilateral lending agencies.

Talking about the completion of the project, the deadline given is the year 2025. This deadline seems quite impossible mainly because of two reasons. First, the land acquisition will require a lot of time and effort due to the state being densely populated. Acquiring land, especially from private owners in the urban areas currently acts as a challenge. The second reason being the uncertainty of the future, which the whole world has learned after the virus hit us.

There is also a significant chance that this project will face opposition from environmentalists stating that there will be damage to the ecosystem in the process of acquiring land. The irreversible impact of this project is what they fear the most. The state’s rivers, paddy fields, and wetlands will be affected. There will be chances that this may trigger floods and landslides in the future. An example of this opposition is Paristhithi Aikya Vedi which is a forum of activists and eco experts. They called the government to abandon the project and suggested them explore a more sustainable solution. Hence, keeping all of this in mind, the deadline of 2025 seems a very difficult one as all of this might hinge on the pace of the project.

 

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Thus, as the title itself iterates, the project is ambitious. It is one that the state needs but its fulfillment would be a long road head, requiring the government to overcome some aforementioned obstacles and being persistent with their goals through correct planning and formation. Kerala is known for its literate and skilled population and it won’t be too shocking to see the state succeed in its project. There’s a lot that goes behind a successful completion of any target, and with this one, the government looks ready to face them all. Let the future be the storyteller of how this goes and what it brings for the economy and situation of the state. 

Simerleen Kaur

Talk to me about economics, trade, and all things India.

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