Pinarayi Vijayan speaking in assembly.
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minster Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday categorically rejected the concerns raised by the opposition UDF against the proposed semi-high speed rail project, saying that the over Rs 63,000 crore initiative is inevitable for the infrastructure development of the state and his government has a transparent approach in this regard.
The Congress-led opposition members strongly argued in the state Assembly that the mammoth project, named K-Rail project, would cause huge financial burden and severe environmental damage to the state and would not be beneficial for common men.
Over 20,000 families have to be displaced for the project and the state has to find out a whopping amount of one lakh twenty four thousand crore rupees for it's implementation, they further charged.
Moving a notice seeking an adjournment motion over the issue during the zero hour, the opposition wanted the House to discuss the matter after suspending all its other businesses considering its seriousness.
However, Vijayan, in his elaborate reply, detailed various benefits of the semi high-speed rail project, proposed between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod districts, and said it would help reduce the congestion and accidents on the state and national highways.
Saying that there is no need for any concern regarding the project, he also claimed that the government was adopting utmost advanced techniques in all aspects of its implementation from land acquisition to aerial survey.
An attractive compensation would be paid to people when their land is acquired for the K-Rail project- up to four times the price of land in rural areas and twice as much in urban areas, he said.
"Rail development is progressing on a slow pace in our country. At present, it takes up to 16 hours to travel from one end of the state to the other. This needs to change...the greatest solution for this is the semi-high speed rail," Vijayan told the Assembly.
The opposition charge that the project would destroy the economy was "baseless", he said, adding that there is no government anywhere in the world that does not borrow for infrastructure development programmes.
"The project is found to affect only 9,314 buildings including houses across the state," he said.
On the concerns of environmental destruction, he said the alignment was designed completely omitting the Western Ghats and similar ecologically sensitive areas.
Taking a dig at the opposition, he said the previous UDF government had planned a high speed rail project which would not have been feasible for a state like Kerala.
M K Muneer (IUML), who moved the notice for the motion, said the opposition was sharing the concerns of common people regarding the project.
Coming down heavily on the Left government and the Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan said, the K-Rail project was "bulldozing" in the name of development.
"The areal survey conducted for the project is inaccurate. A comprehensive environmental and social impact study is yet to be conducted," he said, adding that Vijayan's unwillingness to discuss about an alternative plan could not be accepted.
The UDF members later staged a walkout as Speaker M B Rajesh denied leave for the motion based on the CM's reply. PTI