Silver Line; What Truth In Claims of Compensation?

Silverline; Hopes Amid Concerns

An adamant Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asserted that the government would not back out from the semi high speed Silver Line project, claiming the other day that compensation to the people whose land is acquired will be double of market rate, even more. Does the claim have any truth in it as per the existing Acts and Rules. Moreover, experts are sceptical and doubt how the government is going to give the compensation announced. The state is already reeling under economic pressure and the state economy is not in a good shape.


Now for the claims of giving “even more” compensation, not everyone is likely to get the compensation as claimed by the leaders. Why is this so? The compensation would only go as per the formula spelt in the Detailed project report. The K-Rail has specified that land acquisition will be based on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013. As per the calculations, the claims are a bit sceptical.

When calculated as per the provisions in the Act, the multiplying factor is one time the market value in urban areas. In the rural areas, it will be 1.20 to 2 times up to 10 km after the urban limit 1.4 from 10 km to 20 km 1.6 from 20 km to 30 km and 1.8 times after 30 km and 2 times after 40 km. In addition to this, solatium equivalent to 100 per cent of market value of the land multiplied by the factors applicable will also be given. Compensation to buildings and trees, is any, would also be given.  As per the calculation, people who live 40 km away from the urban area will get four times the market value. In Kerala where the urban-rural distance is not much, one can guess how many people would get the “even more” benefit”.


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced “even more” compensation but has not specified how “much more”. Though announced four times the market price, he has not given a clear picture of urban-rural divide. Moreover, where is the money going to come from for the huge claim? Earlier, Rs 13,265crore compensation package was announced by the Chief Minister himself. Now, he announces “even more” compensation. So how is the government going to source the money for the “even more” compensation? Already the state is reeling under a huge financial crisis with the government finding it hard to meet the expenses for salary and pension, and for the development works. So where is the money going to come? Some magic loans!!!!!!


Despite the Pinarayi Vijayan government adamant in implementing the silver Line project, the protests against the much ambitious semi speed rail project is gaining momentum in the state. The agitation, which has the backing of the Opposition Congress and the BJP has now become a nightmare for the CPM and the government with majority of the people coming out in the open against the project. The people are now protesting against the laying of marking pillars, which the government claims is only for social impact study. As the agitations gains momentum, experts and local population ask who gave the permission or what law prevailed for laying marking pillars in their compounds without their consent. Well, media reports have come out stating that the government notifications clearly mentions that the demarcation was actually part of land acquisition.


Apart from the local people protesting against Silverline, Environmentalists, Economists and technologists have raised their reservation against project. They pointed out the difference in the DPR of the project with the two feasibility reports. As per the DPR, the capital cost of the proposed project is Rs 65,000 crores. However, the NITI Aayog puts the cost at not less than Rs 126 lakh crore. Despite this difference, the state government has no clarification on the wide gap.


Cutting through the state’s ecologically fragile region, the Silver Line will pass through forest areas, backwater regions, wetlands, densely populated areas and paddy fields. A pet project of the Left Government, the rail line would have devastating effect on the eco-sensitive heritage sites such as Ponnani-Thrissur Kole wetlands, Madayipara Biodiversity Park in Kannur. Thirunavaya ponds, lakes, Kadalundi bird sanctuary in Kozhikode and wetlands in Malappuram. 

A major portion of the Silver Line is designed as a fully fenced large bund, named embankments. These mud-rock-concrete structures come in a width of 15 to 30 m and will line 55 per cent of the total distance of the alignment (292.73 kms of the total 529.45 Kms). As per the proposal, they would have a height of 1 to 8 metres above the maximum flood line (MFL).  The embankment as the environmentalists point out would dig a division between the east and west of the state. No doubt, the construction of the will also drill holes in the already fragile Western Ghats as tonnes of rock and soil is needed to build these embankments. The embankments would have its impact on the watersheds. The project would also affect a large area of paddy field. There is also fear of a change in land use around 500 metres towards each side of the rail corridor.


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