THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The protest against the K-rail project is to save the country from the high-speed development paradigm and the left leaders, who are against the Maharashtra bullet train project, should oppose the K-rail project as well, said noted social activist Medha Patkar.
Inaugurating the mass gathering organized by the K-rail Silverline Janakeeya Samara Samithi in front of the Secretariat on Thursday, Medha said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had flown to Delhi for a direct meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the union railway minister said the project was not financially viable.
"Pinarayi Vijayan has not accepted the position of the central government on K-rail declared through the union railway minister. Can Modiji take a decision without consulting conclusions drawn on financial non-viability by the railway minister? Why did the CM straightaway go to meet the PM after that and why Kerala MPs were not given a hearing and instead lathi-charged?" she asked, before adding that Pinarayi could have stopped the Delhi police from beating up Kerala MPs on Parliament premises. She said the K-rail protestors have a right to be heard and expected the CM, being a left leader, to have a dialogue with them. "We had sent him and his secretary a message to have a dialogue with us. But instead, he went to meet Modi. Do they have the same development vision?" she asked.
Medha added that the K-rail project was financially non-viable, ecologically disastrous and took a toll on people. "Projects like these are prestigious issues for some politicians. But they are not acceptable to us. Do they want to push K-rail agitation towards the Nandigram path?" she asked.
She said by erecting survey stones without following the mandatory procedures, the government is nailing the lives of people, who will be affected by the project. Training guns on the left leaders, who had overlooked the police atrocities against the K-rail protestors, Medha added that the left leaders asserted democratic and human rights in forums like Samyukta Kisan Morcha and urged them to pay attention to the plight of the K-rail victims.
Medha added that the claims of rehabilitation and resettlement in the K-rail project cannot be based on financial settlement. "Cash does not matter much. What matters is continuity of life," she said. Medha, who is also one of the founders of the National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM) and had spearheaded the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said K-rail is being opposed to save the state's natural resources and the state government has not conducted the economic, social, democratic and political impact of the project. Deliberation with elected and non-elected representatives of the people is not happening in the K-rail project. "The Environmental Impact Assessment and the Social Impact Assessment are not being conducted as per the law. Still, trespassing is happening in several places. Without giving prior notice, stones are being put inside the premises and that's absolutely illegal," she said.
Environmentalist Shashikant Sonawane was the chief guest of the programme, while former CM Oommen Chandy, Congress leaders M M Hassan and KC Joseph attended the event.