Kerala has not abandoned K-Rail project, assures Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The state could not implement it on its own and the Union government's sanction is mandatory for it, Vijayan explained.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 14, 2023 | 1:16 PMUpdatedDec 14, 2023 | 1:16 PM


The Kerala government has not abandoned its ambitious semi-high-speed K-Rail project, but it cannot proceed without the Centre’s approval, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Kottayam, on Wednesday, 13 December

Vijayan asserted that funding would not be an obstacle to implementing the multi-crore project, expressing the state’s readiness to move forward if the Union government grants the necessary permission.

He clarified the state government’s stance on the controversial issue during a meeting with selected individuals from various walks of life on the sidelines of the Nava Kerala Sadas programme in the district, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Trouble due to political issues: Vijayan

Former Supreme Court judge Justice KT Thomas, one of the invitees, raised the issue of the K-Rail during the meeting, it said.

He wanted to implement the ambitious infrastructure project, even if there were objections.

While giving him a reply, Vijayan said that the state has not abandoned the project, and his government would surely go ahead with the project if the Union government gives its permission.

The Chief Minister made it clear that the project has landed in trouble after political issues cropped up.

The state alone could not implement it on its own and the Union government’s sanction is mandatory for it, he explained.

Normally, the Union government should have given permission for the project, but certain “narrow minds” didn’t allow for the same, the Left veteran said, without naming anyone.

The Southern Railway was asked to look into the implementation of the K-Rail (by the Centre) recently, but that too was found to be opposed, the Chief Minister added.

Also Read: Uncertainty over Kerala’s SilverLine project continues

SilverLine project

The SilverLine project would cover a 530-km stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and be developed by K-Rail, a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Ministry of Railways.

The semi-high-speed rail line planned to be constructed at an estimated cost of around ₹64,000 crore would have 11 stations.

The project aims to ease transportation along the entire north-south of Kerala and reduce the travel time to less than four hours as against 12 to 14 hours.

The semi-high-speed rail project was opposed by parties, including the Congress and the BJP, as well as by the local people in some parts of the state.

Related: SilverLine comes to a halt

Central minister says no approval granted

In 2022, Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has categorically ruled out any delay in the Kerala government’s ambitious but now on-hold SilverLine semi-high-speed rail corridor project.  The reason, however, may not be to the state government’s liking.

The minister’s statement in the Lok Sabha, in response to Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden’s query, has cast a shadow on the probability of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s prestigious project getting back on track.

Replying to Congress member Eden, Vaishaw clarified that the Union government has not sanctioned the Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod rail project. Hence, the question of it being delayed does not arise, the minister said.

Vaishnaw said the project’s financial viability could be examined only after the finalisation of technical parameters, and the project’s consideration depended upon its techno-economic viability.

The central minister also revealed that the state government’s Detailed Project Report (DPR), submitted to his ministry, had insufficient technical feasibility details. In-principle approval was granted only for the pre-investment activities.

The approval was for the preparation of the DPR with complete details of the project, including financials, the minister informed the Lok Sabha.

The Opposition UDF and anti-SilverLine protesters in Kerala, meanwhile, viewed Vaishnaw’s statement as an indication of the Centre’s refusal to support Vijayan’s pet project.

The Chief Minister, however, seemed optimistic about the Centre sanctioning the prestigious project, since similar plans are being implemented in eight other states.

(With PTI inputs)