Kerala government has recently announced a rail project named Silver Line.
This has received some aversive reactions from ecologists, engineers, activists and citizens which include Madhav Gadgil, E. Sreedharan, Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar, etc.
What are the concerns regarding Silverline project?
Concern of flooding– Mr. Sreedharan, perhaps India’s most famous railway engineer has put forth the view that the proposed project can lead to environmental disaster, mainly through flooding.
Concerns were also raised regarding absence of a detailed project report, Kerala government has till now uploaded a related document on a restricted site.
Threat to ecological security– Professor Gadgil, India’s pre-eminent ecologist, has spoken about the ecological damage this project can cause.
Economically unviable-There is also a concern that the Silver Line project may end up becoming economically unviable.
There are concerns that the cost of the complementary infrastructure, such as underpasses, may not have been incorporated.
Kerala already has high per capita public debt and cannot afford to be caught up in an unprofitable project.
Also, there can be no monetary measure of the environmental threat posed by the project.
What can be the alternative for this?
In a democracy, the government must be guided by public opinion as there is no point in introducing a project for the citizens which they are not welcoming of.
There are also concerns regarding the necessity of the project as the two extremities of the State are already connected by road and rail and it already has the highest road density in the country.
Government should instead focus on projects involving steady power supply based on green energy, the provision of safe drinking water and urban sewerage, and building infrastructure for the scientific disposal of waste.
These projects would address the most pressing needs of today, yield high social returns and will also contain environmental degradation.
Source – This post is based on the article “The Silver Line project is anti-development” published in The Hindu on 19th Jan 2022.