Metroman E Sreedharan has found serious fault with the manner in which the Kerala government is promoting its prestigious ‘Silver Line’ project, the semi high-speed railway project to link the Kasaragod in the North to Thiruvananthapuram in the South.
“My estimate is that the project will cost ₹75,000 crore at present and more than ₹1.1 lakh crore on completion. This is based on the last accepted rates of Delhi Rapid Rail Transit with a maximum speed of 180 km/hr,” Sreedharan said in a detailed protest note.
Claims that the project will be completed by 2025 shows how ignorant the project agency is. “Even the best executing agency in the country such as the DMRC will take eight to 10 years for completing such a project.
No traffic or geotechnical survey or environmental or social impact study have been conducted. The DPR is mostly based on assumptions and hypothesis. Naturally the cost estimates, traffic projections and economics of the line are not reliable. Contents of the DPR are secretly kept and not available in the public domain, Sreedharan said.
The cost estimate is brutally suppressed on the basis that the line is ‘at grade’ (at the same level). The public will not agree for a high-speed Line to be located at grade.
This is also the biggest objection to the project from Railway experts and environmentalists. "The Silver Line should be away from the existing line, either elevated or underground. High speed or semi high-speed lines are hardly planned at ground level," Sreedharan said.
He recalled that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had publicly accused the opposition parties (the UDF and the BJP) of blocking developmental works in the state with particular reference to the Silver Line project.
“Yes, BJP is totally against the Silver Line project for the reason that, as now conceived, it is totally against the interests of the state," Sreedharan pointed out in the detailed critique.
The alignment chosen is flawed. From Tirur to Kasaragod, it runs parallel to the existing railway Line. The Railways have opposed this alignment as it would interfere with the future quadrupling. At least 140 km runs through paddy fields, which are not stable for high speeds.
To prevent trespassing, high walls have to be constructed on either side of the tracks, blocking free passage and drainage. In effect, an equivalent of a China Wall will divide Kerala from North to South. This is an idiotic decision.
The technical parameters of the project have not been approved, particularly the gauge. The Railways want this line to function as the third and fourth lines, to complement the present line capacity. This is not now possible with standard gauge.
No final location survey has been done on the ground for the Silver Line. “Finalising a railway alignment based on Google maps or Lidar survey is not acceptable particularly when land acquisition in being pursued with undue haste."
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