Kodiyeri Balakrishnan | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF opposition on Saturday held state-wide protests against the LDF government's flagship Silver Line rail corridor project alleging it was "unscientific" and "impractical", even as the ruling CPM made it clear that it would go ahead with the multi-crore infrastructure initiative at any cost as it was their poll promise to the people.
Intensifying the agitation, leader of opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan launched the state-level protest at Ernakulam while Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief K Sudhakaran inaugurated the event in front of the Secretariat here. Various UDF leaders held protests in the headquarters of 10 districts through which the project would pass. A dream project of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Silver Line is aimed at setting up 529.45 kms of rail corridor connecting the southern district Thiruvananthapuram to the northernmost Kasaragod, reducing the travel time to just four hours.
Lashing out at the Left government, Sudhakaran told reporters here that as per media reports, the Vijayan government was trying to launch the mammoth project based on a "fake" Detailed Project Report (DPR). People of the state, cutting across caste, religion and politics, were seeing the project with utmost concern, he said and claimed that even CPM activists in Kannur district were objecting to its survey. "The state government has the responsibility to alleviate the fear and concerns of people in this connection and convince them that there is no drawback with the project," he said.
Sudhakaran also alleged that standard gauge tracks are planned in the proposed project which are highly risky and dangerous to the safety of people. The Kannur MP also stated that there was no politics behind their protest but the UDF wanted to ensure that development initiatives should be for the sake of people and the land. The KPCC chief further alleged that relatives of various CPM leaders were appointed in key posts in the project.
Asked about the contradictory stand taken by party MP Shashi Tharoor in the Silver Line issue, he said it was natural for a democratic party to have people with divergent views, but the leadership would not allow anyone to dig their own grave. Meanwhile, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan rejected the UDF charges and said even a section of Congress activists were supporting the infrastructure project and Tharoor's stand was testimony to that.
"What Tharoor said was the general feeling of Kerala towards the Silver Line project. Though he is a Congress MP and leader, he usually does not take a negative approach in development issues like other Congress leaders," he told reporters in New Delhi. The senior leader rejected the Congress-UDF charge that the Left government has shown "undue hastiness" in implementing the project and said the process has been going on for the last five years. He also urged the opposition to set aside their differences and extend support to the flagship project and said the government was ready to provide them any clarification. "Implementation of Silver Line is mentioned in the LDF's election manifesto. It will be implemented at any cost. The Congress should review its stand," the Marxist party leader added. (PTI)