Political understanding? Sreedharan’s railway project sparks debates in Kerala

Metro Man E Sreedharan’s idea of high-speed railway project gains acceptance from the left and BJP; Congress treads cautiously

| Updated: 14 July, 2023 2:48 pm IST
E Sreedharan's proposal offers a way out for the Left and the BJP

ERNAKULAM, KERALA: Metro Man E Sreedharan’s new proposal for a high-speed railway line in Kerala has gained more acceptance from the ruling left-front government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, the state Congress leadership has not commented yet on the feasibility of the project. The party has maintained a cautious stance, as they feel the move could be the beginning of a political understanding between the CPI(M) and the BJP ahead of the 2024 polls.

The current high-speed project by Sreedharan is envisaged as a ₹1 lakh crore project, with the state and the central government working together with the assistance of loans provided by international agencies.

Earlier, the state government’s dream project, called the Semi-high-speed silver line project, was mired in controversy and there was a massive protest by the public.

The protests erupted after the state agencies, along with the revenue department, laid yellow stones at private spaces of individuals who were asked to vacate their land, promising a rehabilitation package.

The ₹63,000 crore project had to face stiff opposition from the allies of the ruling left government and later the union railway ministry rejected the state government’s project DPR.

E Sreedharan’s proposal offers a way out for the Left and the BJP, which are in a stalemate over the Silverline project.

Meanwhile, top sources within the Congress are of the view that the current talks and deliberations between E Sreedharan are part of a political understanding between the two parties.

As the state leadership chose to remain silent on the matter, Congress national general secretary KC Venugopal alleged a hidden deal between the CPM and the BJP over the project.

He took to Facebook to accuse his former colleague KV Thomas of acting as a bridge between PM Narendra Modi and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayayan.

“The moment KV Thomas and E Sreedharan held talks; the project was back on track. Doubts arose after BJP state president K Surendran also entered the picture. Without an iota of doubt, it can be said that the revived project, which was envisaged in just two days, reeks of conspiracy,” said Venugopal.

One of the major obstructions cited with the K-Rail is that it envisages the new line on embankments parallel to the existing ones, thus making it impossible to acquire land since thousands of people need to be rehabilitated.

E Sreedharan has expressed confidence in the new project, however, he has maintained that the state and the central government should agree on the project.

“Kerala requires a high-speed rail corridor. However, it is not the silver line that is mooted by K-Rail and the state government. If the government is willing, I am ready to go beyond politics and take up the project”, said the former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief.

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