Additional Chief Secretary Abdul Nasar B suggested using technology to decide SilverLine’s alignment, in light of massive protests against the laying of survey stones.
On Monday, May 16, the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (KRDCL) was instructed to use alternative methods to demarcate the boundaries of the SilverLine project rather than placing survey stones. The multi-crore semi-rapid high-speed train project is opposed by locals in many parts of the state and survey stone laying works have been repeatedly halted due to public protests .
Additional Chief Secretary Abdul Nasar B has written to the Commissioner of Land Revenue, District Collectors, as well as the Managing Director of KRDCL, suggesting the use of GPS-based methods for SilverLine alignment demarcation. “In view of the violent public protests and resistance on the ground from the stone laying team, they (KRDCL) had advised that the SilverLine alignment had been finalized using a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and that alignment could be easily established in the field by Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates using Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey equipment or cell phones with GPS function. Therefore, it has been proposed that bollards can be placed where landowners consent and in other places the alignment can be demarcated by marking on permanent structures,” he said. stated in the letter.
In addition, he directed the use of either the geotagging method using “good software or an app” or demarcation of boundaries by marking on permanent structures. “KRDCL should assist the SIA (Social Impact Assessment) team to identify the alignment either by DGPS survey equipment or mobile phones with GPS as proposed so that the SIA team can identify people affected by the project and collect the data correctly”, he added. .
Reacting to this order, K-Rail Virudha Janakeeya Samithi General Convener S Rajeevan asked what is the use of GPS, when social impact assessment is to be conducted in the field. “This decision by the government comes after understanding the vehement public opposition to the project. Especially after the protests in Kannur. However, the use of GPS is of no use as the HIA has to be conducted in the field and people’s consent has to be obtained from the ground. Can they do it using GPS? “, he added.
The SilverLine rail corridor, planned to cover a 530 kilometer stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, is estimated at around Rs 64,000 crore. The project aims to facilitate transportation throughout North-South Kerala and reduce travel time to less than four hours from the current 12-14 hours. The proposed project was met with vehement opposition from residents as well as the Congress-led UDF.
Read: Fact check: How true are the Kerala government’s claims on the ambitious SilverLine project?