E Sreedharan | Photo: P P Ratheesh
Thiruvananthapuram: Noted engineer E Sreedharan dismissed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s claims that that the K-Rail SilverLine project will not dissect Kerala and that bridges will be built within every 500 metres of the track. E Sreedharan said that walls will have to be created on either side of the tracks through which the semi high-speed rail passes to avoid people and animals from trespassing.
With the government determined to go forward with the project, Sreedharan on Wednesday asked the government not to fool people by underestimating costs and hiding facts.
If completed the pet project of Vijayan will see a 529.45 km corridor connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and a high speed train will run this distance in around four hours.
And on Tuesday for the first time Vijayan met up with an invited audience of around 200 people in the state capital city and explained the project and based on it Sreedharan has raised a few questions.
Sreedharan said that Vijayan in his interaction with selected invitees stated that Kerala State would not be divided by the K-Rail, as over bridges or under bridges will be provided every 500 m, at all places where the K-Rail is on the ground.
"On either side high concrete or masonry walls have to be provided to prevent trespass of people and animals - fencing will not do as it can be violated easily. Providing solid walls on either side is a sure environmental disaster as it will block natural drainage and will be an eye-sore as well," said Sreedharan.
He goes on to say that the fate of Kuttanad which gets flooded easily will get repeated over the entire length of 393 km, where K-Rail is at ground level.
"Further, over 393 km about 800 ROBs/RUBs will have to be constructed. Each will cost at least about Rs 20 crore. That means a total cost of about Rs 16,000 crore. This cost has not been included in the present estimate. Further for 800 ROBs/RUBs a lot of additional land has to be acquired which has not been foreseen. The extra cost of land and time for acquisition has to be reckoned," said Sreedharan.
He went on say that at Tuesday's meeting it was said that the detailed report of major projects are not made public.
"This is a total lie. I had prepared DPRs for at least 10 major projects and none of the DPRs was kept away from the public. Why should the government, fool the people by underestimating costs and hiding facts," asked Sreedharan.
It was Sreedharan who was largely instrumental in seeing the Kochi Metro becoming a reality, but after the Pinarayi Vijayan government took over in 2016, for some reason the two never got along well and it worsened after Sreedharan became a candidate of the BJP in the April 2021 assembly polls and gave a fright to the sitting Congress legislator Shafi Parambil, who eventually managed to win.