K-Rail: Vijayan dodges points raised by Opposition

The Kerala Assembly on Monday witnessed a debate on the pet project of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan – the K-Rail. As expected the treasury benches batted for it, while the Congress led opposition termed it as an ecological, environmental and economic disaster if it becomes a reality. At the end of it, the treasury benches said come what may they will go ahead with it and the opposition walked out expressing their displeasure.

If completed, the project will see a 529.45 km corridor connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and a high speed train will cover this distance in around four hours. It will cost Rs 63,940 crores. NITI Ayog says it might cost Rs 1.24 lakh crores and is expected to be completed in 2025 according to the detailed project report.

When the opposition sought leave to discuss this project, much to their surprise, Vijayan who last month shot it down, on Monday agreed to hold a two hour discussion on it.

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan pointed out various discrepancies in the project in its preliminary feasibility report, the final feasibility report and what Vijayan said about this project on the floor of the assembly.

“He (Vijayan) says they have had discussions with the people, but that discussion was a monologue where things were told, what should have been done was a dialogue.”

“he ridership in the first report says they expect 40,000 passengers daily and two months later in the final report says the ridership expected is over 80,000. With regard to the embankment needed to build this in the first report it says it’s 89 kms, in the second report it becomes 236 kms and in the detailed project report it says 384 kms. This is nothing but data fudging, which is a criminal offence,” said Satheesan.

He pointed out that the Vizhinjam container port terminal work is stuck because of non availability of limestones.

“The fact of the matter is K-Rail will need more limestones even if the entire Western Ghats is demolished and used. This project has come at a time when the whole world is conscious of the climate change phenomenon and this project of the CPI-M is 60 years old and we will not allow this project at all,” added Satheesan.

Vijayan however failed to answer any of the points raised by Satheesan and instead just said that the project is environmentally and economically viable and is meant for our future generations.

“We held discussions with lots of people across the state and we did not get a negative response at all and the general impression was everyone wanted it to be finished at the earliest. The ongoing protests against this project have caused a lot of damage and numerous police and revenue officials have been attacked. Come what may, we will go ahead with this project as this is one which is much needed for the development of the state,” said Vijayan.

He later invited the opposition legislators to come and watch a presentation on K-Rail where all their doubts will be answered on Tuesday.

Satheesan later told the media outside the assembly that they are certain that this project will be one which will finish off Kerala and they will go ahead with their already announced protests from Saturday with more than 1,000 rallies across the state.

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