The Kerala government has not abandoned the semi-high speed rail corridor, SilverLine, as the project will have to be approved by the central government, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in the state assembly on Tuesday.
Pinarayi Vijayan said the SilverLine project was necessary for the state's development as a high speed or semi-high speed rail was necessary in Kerala and such trains cannot be run on the existing tracks according to experts.
He said that the state government had gone ahead with various surveys and a social impact assessment (SIA) study due to an in-principle approval for the project and the initial indications from the Centre that it would green-light the semi-high speed rail corridor.
However, the Centre was hesitating now due to the interference of some people, the CM said.
"But what needs to be seen is that the project will have to be approved by the Centre. They will have to. If not now, then in the future. Therefore, the state government has not abandoned the project," Pinarayi Vijayan said.
At the same time, he also conceded that without the Centre's approval, the state cannot say it will go ahead with the project.
He was responding to the Congress-led UDF opposition's queries in the assembly as to whether the cases lodged against those who protested against laying of survey stones would be withdrawn since the project has not yet received any approval from the Centre.
The opposition also alleged that false cases have also been lodged against those who protested against the survey stone laying.
On the criminal cases lodged, Pinarayi Vijayan said that action was not taken against those opposing the project, but against those who disrupted law and order and destroyed public property.
Therefore, the state government was not considering withdrawing cases against such persons, he added.
The Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine project, which is expected to reduce travel time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to around four hours, is being opposed by the Congress-led UDF, which has been alleging that it was "unscientific and impractical" and will put a huge financial burden on the state.
The proposed 530-km stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod would be developed by K-Rail, a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Railway Ministry for developing railway infrastructure in the southern state.
Starting from the state capital, SilverLine trains will have stoppages at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod.