Everything you need to know about the ‘Silver Line’ project

The state government has claimed the railway line will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but there has been significant opposition from environmentalists citing potential damage to the ecosystem. They fear an irreversible impact on the state’s rivers, rice paddies and wetlands. This could trigger floods and landslides in the future, they say.

Earlier in 2020, the Center for Environment and Development (CED) of the Thiruvananthapuram-based research institute carried out a rapid environmental impact assessment (REIA) of the project. The research institute was not an organization authorized to carry out environmental impact studies (EIA). Engineer and activist Sridhar Radhakrishnan pointed out in The minute of the news that a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) is needed which will cover all seasons of a year, and not an EIA carried out over a single season. He argued that the submitted report focused on the positive aspects of the project while ignoring the main negative aspects and also did not suggest any plans to mitigate them.

According to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted in July 2020, the SilverLine route does not cross any notified area such as a national park, wildlife reserves, biosphere reserves and ‘other environmentally sensitive areas. However, the assessment adds that “the alignment is somewhat parallel to one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats and, therefore, biodiversity-related impacts need to be carefully assessed.” These include the villages of Madayipara, Kadalundi, Ponnani and Thirunavaya.

Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedi, a forum of eco-experts and activists, called on the government to drop the project and explore lasting solutions.

“The SilverLine project envisions borrowing Rs 64,000 crore from various international lending agencies. Alternatives that can be implemented at less than or equal cost … These should be considered in consultation with experts before any early engagement in the project, ”the statement from Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedi reads.

K-Rail estimates that 9,314 buildings should be demolished. We know that at least 10,000 families may need to be rehoused. Once the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is completed, this number could be double the estimate.

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