K-Rail officials face protest in Kannur

Kannur/Kochi: K-Rail officials on Friday faced a violent protest when they reached Muzhappilangad in Kannur district to lay marker stones as part of the social impact study of the rail project of the Left government.

The protestors, led by the Congress party, allegedly manhandled an official of the Kerala Rail Development Corporation, who was part of the team that was laying the stones in the region which falls under the proposed alignment area of the SilverLine semi-high-speed rail corridor.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan continued his attack against the Left government. He said in a debate organised by the K-Rail that even those who support the project raised their voice against laying marker stones on the properties of local people without any prior intimation.

"The former railway chief engineer who came to talk for the government said the project was for the upper layer of society. Where is the Left ideology when a public transport system like KSRTC is left in a shambles but the government is batting for SilverLine? This government is having an extreme right wing attitude," Satheesan said in Kochi.

The Congress protesters at Muzhappilangad allegedly manhandled and hurled abuse at the K-Rail officials, forcing the police to remove them. Certain mediapersons were also abused.

The debate on Thursday provided a platform for expressing different views on the multi-crore project.

The discussion, with three panelists supporting the Left government's ambitious project and one expert opposing its implementation, was held at a hotel in Thiruvananthapuram, the State capital, amid criticism that the authorities were not lending an ear to the woes of the common people and views of the critics.

Kuncheria P Isaac, former vice-chancellor of the Kerala Technical University, supported the rail corridor, saying better transportation facilities, including faster trains and expressways, were the necessity of the southern State.

However, R V G Menon, an environmental scientist and a critic of SilverLine, had expressed reservation about the multi-crore project, saying doubling of the existing rail tracks and modernisation of the signalling system were the best possible alternative.

Last week, the survey stone-laying process for the project resumed after a gap of almost one month, triggering a fresh round of clashes between locals and anti-SilverLine activists with the police.

The SilverLine rail corridor, envisaged to cover a 530-km stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, is estimated to cost around Rs 64,000 crore.

The project aims to ease transport along north-south of Kerala and reduce travel time to less than four hours as against 12-14 hours. PTI

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