The heavy footprint of a light rail

Source: The Hindu 

Relevance: This article depicts the harmful impacts of rapid development of transportation system in India.


The light rail project of Kerala government connecting Thirunvananthapuram and Kasargod would inflict severe environmental damage in the state. The government should look for alternative options like a sea ferry that can ensure seamless transportation and significantly reduce environmental degradation.

  • The Government of Kerala is planning to construct a light rail project. It will reduce the travel time between the two extremities of the State – the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram in the south and the town of Kasargod in its north.
  • Currently, it has drawn criticism from environmental groups owing to its adverse impact on the region’s ecology, but there are economic concerns as well.
Concerns associated with of yet another rail line:
  • First, the land chosen for railway construction is of an undulated topography combined with an often rocky surface that is prone to crumbling when dislodged.
    • Excessive quarrying and construction have already left it vulnerable to torrential rain, as seen in the devastating landslides recorded across the State in recent years. Therefore, the construction will severely impact the stability of the earth’s surface along its course.
  • Second, its construction will submerge various wetlands of the state, which may deter the fresh water supply to nearby communities.
  • Third, the wetland consists of paddy fields as well. Hence, submergence would hamper the livelihood of farmers and impact food security of the region, as paddy is the staple food of Malayalees.
Way Ahead:
  • The government should listen to citizens’ concerns on the plan to install a light railway across the State.
    • Two years ago it had dismissed protests by the villagers of Keezhattur in Kannur District against a highway project that would destroy their paddy fields. 
  • The government should look for alternate options for connectivity. The state already has a well-connected road, railway and airway transportation system. 
    • It can now build a sea-borne ferry service connecting Thiruvananthapuram with Kasargod, and all the ports in between. This would leave the land untouched.

Terms to Know

  • Light Rail
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