THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major climbdown in the wake of stiff opposition, the state government has abandoned stone laying for the Social Impact Assessment for SilverLine project. The revenue department has directed K-Rail to go for either geo-tagging or marking on permanent structures instead of boundary stones.
Opposition UDF hailed the decision as the first victory of the anti-SilverLine protests, while Revenue Minister K Rajan came up with a face saver, saying the decision was taken to speed up SIA. Stone laying has not been completely stopped, he added.
The K-Rail Corporation has recently suggested that stone laying can be done in places where land owners give consent. In other locations, alignments can be demarcated by marking on permanent structures. The government has given its nod for the proposal, the minister said.
In a letter to the state government on May 5, the K-Rail managing director said that the alignment of SilverLine has been finalised using LIDAR survey. The alignment can be established in the field by GPS coordinates. He requested the government to consider taking up SIA within this framework in view of the project’s priority and stiff resistance from the people. Further to this request, the additional chief secretary (revenue) directed the officials concerned to opt for geo-tagging using either an app or a software.
The government’s decision comes amid protests from different corners against laying stones. Many experts including former railway officials have pointed out that stone laying was not mandatory for SIA. It was further alleged that land acquisition was the real intention behind stone laying.
Satheesan: First victory for anti-SilverLine agitation
Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said the government’s decision to back out from stone laying is the first victory for the anti-SilverLine agitation. He also urged the government to withdraw cases registered against protestors.
“It seems good sense has prevailed on the government. We had suggested that SIA can be done without stone laying. The government should admit its mistake,” he told reporters in Kochi on Monday. Satheesan said the government took the decision after reality dawned on it, when it approached voter sin Thrikkakara.
Anti-SilverLine People’s Resistance Council too hailed the government’s move as a victory of its stir. “The order states the decision was taken considering people’s protests. We will continue protests till the project is withdrawn,” chairman M P Baburaj and general convener S Rajeevan said in a joint statement.