Kerala’s semi-high speed Silver Line rail Project: Centre asks state to begin land acquisition

By: |
February 8, 2021 1:55 PM

The Central government has also directed K-Rail to re-engage with JICA to finalise the Rs 63,941 crore funding for semi high-speed rail 'Silver Line', connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod.

Kerala semi high speed rail, silver lineThe 530-km-long Silver Line rail project requires 185 hectares of the railway land as well as 1,198 hectares of private land.

The revised debt-fund raising plan for the Rs 64,000-crore semi-high speed rail project has finally been approved by the Union Finance Ministry, according to a top Kerala government official. Earlier, JICA- a Japanese development agency had committed to fund Rs 33,700 crore which was also approved by the Finance ministry in 2019 but later the Japanese agency massively curtailed its exposure, following which the Finance Ministry asked the state government to submit a revised debt raising plan which was sent shortly. The official was quoted in a PTI report saying that in a letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, dated January 5, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) to expedite the project’s land acquisition process after obtaining necessary clearances.

The Central government has also directed K-Rail to re-engage with JICA to finalise the Rs 63,941 crore funding for semi high-speed rail ‘Silver Line’, connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and covering the distance of 529.45 kilometres in four hours as against over 12 hours now. The line will now cover the stretch of Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam/Kochi in flat 90 minutes, as against over four hours’ time.

Earlier, Kerala has nearly halved the JICA loan from USD 4.6 billion to USD 2.5 billion under the revised debt funding plan submitted and approved by the central government. K-Rail Managing Director V Ajith Kumar was quoted in the report saying that K-Rail is also seeking USD1 billion from the Asian Development Bank, USD460 million from the German development agency KfW, and USD500 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Kumar further said the funding from Centre will come from the Rs 1,10,055-crore allocated for the National Rail Plan-2030, of which the Silver Line project is already a part.

The 530-km-long Silver Line rail project requires 185 hectares of the railway land as well as 1,198 hectares of private land. Of the estimated project cost of Rs 63,941-crore, an amount of Rs 11,535 crore will be for overall compensation, of which Rs 975 crore for taking over railway land, Rs 6,100 crore for acquiring private land, and Rs 4,460 crore to pay compensation to structures that suffer damage. Another amount of Rs 1,730 crore will be required for resettlement as well as rehabilitation.

Kumar further said the Central government will invest just Rs 3,000 crore in equity for the semi-high speed rail project, of which an amount of Rs 975 crore for the railway land cost that will be shared for the project wherever a parallel alignment is present with the existing mainlines. Thus, the railways effective cost is the just around Rs 2,025 crore in the Rs 64,000 crore project, he said.

The upcoming Silver Line will run parallel to the existing railhead from Kasaragod to Tirur in the district of Malappuram, while for the Tirur-Thiruvananthapuram stretch, an alternative green-field alignment has been chosen. The 530-km-long line will cover nine stops- Kollam, Kottayam, Chengannur, Thrissur, Tirur, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, and Kannur, Kumar added.

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