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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Sunday, 28 November 2021 1.09 AM IST

Way to development

silverline

Those who lament that new industries are not coming to the state and that there is no way to increase the economic income of the country are not unaware that none of these will work without improving infrastructure. Despite its reputation for literacy and human resources, decades after the birth of United Kerala, the political divide on development issues is the main reason why we have not been able to make great strides in terms of transportation. When it comes to development issues in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, there is a unity which political parties in Kerala need to learn from.

The Opposition walked out of the Assembly yesterday over the Silver Line project, which makes a journey from the capital Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod possible in four hours. One of their main allegations is that the project will plunge Kerala into debt. Responding to the arguments of the Opposition, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan clarified that the Silver Line project is for the betterment of Kerala. With the completion of the project, which will lead to a huge leap in the development of the state, public transport will be strengthened and cities will be developed. Infrastructure development will create more investment and hence jobs. With the realization of high-speed rail, a complete green project with no carbon emissions, road transport will be significantly reduced.

Land acquisition and relocation of people living in populated areas can be a stumbling block to any major project. There was a time when landlords did not even get a fair price when land was acquired. But that has changed. When Oommen Chandy was the Chief Minister, the government started giving money to the landlords for land acquisition almost beyond the market price. The Pinarayi government is following the same path. An example of this is what the owners got when the government acquired land on the Karamana-Kaliyikavila route in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Chief Minister has said in the Assembly that the land for the Silver Line project will be acquired only with the cooperation of the people. Compensation will be four times the price of land in rural areas and twice that in urban areas. The land acquisition has been approved by the Central Government. Most of the route passes through sparsely populated areas. The path will be through bridges over 88 km of paddy fields. Half the land needed to build a six-lane national highway would be enough for a high-speed railroad. There is no need to disbelieve when the Chief Minister says that no one's land will be plundered.

The project is expected to be completed in four years at an estimated cost of Rs 63,940 crore. A number of ways have been identified, including foreign loans of Rs 33,700 crore at low interest rates. It goes without saying that those who allege that the project will put the state in a financial quandary are forgetting the potential benefits if it becomes a reality.

Opponents of the Silver Line project must remember how beneficial it will be to the state and future generations when it is completed.

Creating a new Kerala is not the sole duty and responsibility of the rulers. With the support of the opposition, the people will fully enjoy the benefits of democracy. The government should also come forward to resolve the objections raised by the opposition through negotiations. But let us not forget that the campaigns that undermine the project are holding back the development of Kerala.

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TAGS: SILVERLINE, HIGH SPEED RAIL, EDITORIAL
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