T’PURAM/KOCHI: With the deadline for the social impact assessment (SIA) for the SilverLine semi high-speed rail project getting over about two weeks ago, the project is now in limbo. Six months after it was initiated, the SIA was completed only in around 45 of the total 190 villages across the state. Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed K-Rail to respond to the statement filed by the Railway Board saying it had neither approved nor concurred with the assessment.
“The Union government simply washed its hands of. Now, the government of India says that the entire matter will be at K-Rail’s risk. The government says that they have no role to play in it,” observed the court.As per the notification issued by the state government, the SIA for the project should be completed within six months. K-Rail had entrusted various agencies with the task of conducting the study. It was going on in 11 districts. With stiff opposition from various corners, the government had informed the High Court that SIA would now be carried out through geo-tagging.
Though the time frame set for the SIA got over in most districts by the beginning of this month, major portion of the work is still pending. In some other districts, the time limit set for the study will expire by the month end.
For the SIA to restart, the state government has to issue a re-notification. So far, the government hasn’t taken any such decision. Meanwhile, the revenue department is learnt to have asked the agencies conducting SIA for an update regarding the current status of the study.It has sought details including the number of villages where the study has been completed, the details of the remaining villages and the number of people to be interviewed for the assessment.
Meanwhile, K-Rail officials said it was only a temporary issue which would soon be sorted out. The agencies conducting SIA will resume the study once the state re-notifies the same, said the officials.
With the SIA not completed, other procedures including land acquisition for the project too will be delayed further. The state government which had initially shown a keen interest in stone-laying for the project has surprisingly not been very active now. With the Union government not showing interest in issuing the final nod for the Detailed Project Report the state government is not sure about the fate of SilverLine.