Why is the communist regime in Kerala pushing the SilverLine K-Rail project, even though there is unprecedented people’s protest against the same? Kerala Police have been brutal on the protestors on the streets (women and children included) while the Assembly speaker switched off the opposition leader’s mike so that Pinarayi Vijayan could justify his government’s stand.
What was affectionately called the K-Rail has now turned into a menace. Fundamentally, it is a high-speed train that is projected to connect Kasargod in the north with Thiruvananthapuram in the south that will cut down travel time to just four hours. Existing high-speed trains like the Janshatabdi cover the same distance in around nine hours.
Trains in Kerala are notoriously similar to transport buses in other states. Since Kerala is a narrow state, there is just one main double-track train line. A distance of around 600 km has an astonishing 178 railway stations. When one compares the same with the neighboring state of Tamilnadu, the railways cover 4000 odd km and have 532 railway stations.
During the Congress regime in New Delhi, every MP/MLA from Kerala used to use his or her ‘influence’ and get trains to stop in their constituency. The average speed of journey by rail in the state is 40% lower than in the neighboring states. The journey becomes even slower once the rains set in, because of deterioration in the condition of railway lines due to landslides. This has made traveling by train, a harrowing experience for commuters but the politicians just didn’t care.
All that the communist regime has to do to facilitate speedier travel is reduce the number of stops, for the existing trains. Instead, they are planning a new elevated K-Rail that will have just 11 stops for the 14 districts. This is the same government that was unable to acquire land for double-tracking the existing railway lines, in some sections. Yes, Kerala still holds back some trains, to let others go, even in this day and age.
Another basic question on everyone’s mind is who will find it viable since Kerala now has four airports and an hour’s flight from Kannur to Thiruvanthapuram barely costs Rs.2,200 when booked in advance. Kozhikode and Ernakulam too have airports.
SilverLine Project is being handled in Delhi by the communist Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas and in Kerala by his wife Sheba Brittas. To be honest, the lady is a fine railway officer and initially refused the offer, but then again communism corrodes everything that it touches. There are also allegations of nepotism and that she is not even qualified enough for the job.
A massive 80 lakh loads of granite and 50 lakh loads of sand are needed and the only quarries in Kerala are found in the highly vulnerable highlands of the Western Ghats. Interestingly, this is also a state that is now scrambling to find such raw materials to complete the port project at Vizhinjam. Though Adani is building that port, like anywhere in Bharat, the state government has to arrange raw materials like boulders and sand but the contractor has to pay.
The government estimated cost of K-Rail is Rs 64,000 crore but the price of land has been grossly underestimated. Production costs have been reduced by up to 74% in some areas. If at all it was to materialize, Keralites would end up paying close to Rs. 2 lakh crores for a project that might get washed away within a few years.
Geographical factors like the topography of the region, sea erosion, and the floods that have become common since 2015, remain ignored by the project cheerleaders. Even though this honest opinion came from MetroMan E Sreedharan, the communists rejected it. The eco-warriors and their media backers who were out in force to stymie the Mumbai Metro car shed in Aarey colony just to spite the ‘communal’ Fadnavis government, are nowhere to be seen when they are really needed.
Critics maintain that this is nothing but another scheme for the communists to earn commissions and bribes, at the state’s expense. It is also commonly known that contractors have to pay the communists, such monies, in advance. Therein lies the answer for communist desperation.
Living In Fear
Keralites now live in fear and all that they can do is pray before going to bed at night that they don’t wake up to find the now dreaded yellow land K-Rail markers when they wake up. Land grabbing has affected thousands and is continuing unabated even as we speak. To avoid protests, K-Rail employees approach areas at night, survey, and lay the marking stones.
Kerala is a thickly populated state and most middle-class families, if lucky, barely own a few square meters of land and a home. The issue with the state government is that the urgency shown to acquire such lands goes slack once they have filled their pockets.
Project delays are common and as far as the common citizen is concerned, his land becomes unsaleable, the moment the government ‘acquires’ it. He has to live in fear for the rest of his life and is unable to even mortgage such lands with local banks.
Citizens very well know that the government just does not have the money to buy their land. The communists have notched up huge debts, ever since they came to power. This is exactly why the government’s stand that those who oppose the acquisition are against progress, is totally unjustified.
The left-liberal commentators who were up in arms when the Modi government introduced the well-considered Land Acquisition Bill to speed up economic development, are missing in action when irregular land acquisition is being done by a state government. No one is making ‘suit-boot-ki-sarkar’ (government of corporates) jibes at Pinarayi Vijayan
Police Brutality Against Children And Women
The manner in which the communist regime is handling things, it can be safely said that they are not interested in finishing it. Unless land acquisition is completed, no one will come forward and even begin work on such huge projects. While the police and authorities are aggressive in some areas, they remain passive in other regions that have a particular ‘minority’ population.
A couple of incidents that happened this week are proof enough. While they dragged a woman and her child in full public view, they remained mute spectators when others opposed and actually pulled out the yellow K-Rail markers.
To please their communist masters, some male police personnel are also beating up women protestors. In the process, they have made a mockery of several court orders that restrains male officers from even touching women.
It seems it was the former leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former CM Oommen Chandy (both are MLAs now) were the ones who originally planned this whole project. That the opposition Congress leaders are up in arms now is only because they fear that they will miss out on their share of the kickbacks pie.
The communists are lying that the project has central government approval. Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw reiterated in Parliament two days ago that K-rail does not have Central Govt approval, as yet.
The last time Kerala saw such massive protests, where the common citizens participated, was during the Sabarimala protests. Will the K-Rail prove to be the Nandigram episode for communism in Kerala, only time will tell.