THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what could be perceived as a climbdown from his earlier stance that SilverLine will be implemented at any cost, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government can go ahead with the semi-high speed rail project only after getting the Union government’s approval.
Hinting that ‘political clearance’ could be further delayed, Pinarayi said though the Centre had initially taken a favourable stance towards the project, it is now hesitant to give approval, following protests by the Opposition UDF and BJP.
He alleged that the BJP and UDF want to sabotage developmental initiatives in the state. “In certain instances, we can go forward with the projects despite opposition. However for developmental projects like SilverLine, the Centre’s nod is of utmost importance,” the chief minister said.
State yet to get positive reply from Rail Board
“With the BJP too joining the anti-SilverLine protests, the Centre is reluctant to issue clearance. We can go ahead only if there is a favourable stance,” said Pinarayi, while inaugurating the Nava Kerala seminar organised by the EMS Academy here on Tuesday.
The Railway Board, which was in favour of the project initially, has not been very encouraging with regard to it recently. According to the K-Rail Corporation, only political clearance is now required for the project. But despite hectic efforts at the state bureaucratic level, there has been no positive response from the Railway Board.
Recently, the state chief secretary had written to the Union government seeking clearance for the Detailed Project Report. However, the Railway Board is yet to respond. Last week, the K-Rail officials, including its managing director, had met Railway Board members in Delhi and briefed them about the technical aspects of the project. But there has been no positive response from the Centre so far.
“The board has been raising various issues on the project’s technical aspects before the High Court. However, they haven’t directly communicated about this with either the state government or the K-Rail Corporation. The Railway Board seems to be convinced about the project, but the final clearance is still pending,” said sources. The state government and K-Rail Corporation are now pinning their hopes on the Prime Minister’s visit to the state on June 21.