K-Rail will need 50% less earth than for NH: MD

‘Comprehensive EIA study spanning over a year has begun’

The 530-km SilverLine semi-high speed rail corridor will need approximately 50% less mud (earth) and aggregate than that for a 45-m wide national highway, V. Ajithkumar, managing director of Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd. (K-Rail), has said.

He termed as one-sided, the statements by critics of the project that the embankment would lead to razing of many hills and rocks to source mud and aggregate. “Surprisingly they are silent on the volume of these raw materials required for widening and developing the 45-m-wide national highway (NH) from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and another highway envisaged further east of MC Road.”

The width of the SilverLine corridor would range from 15 m for the viaduct area (approximately 88 km elevated tracks) to 25 m through hilly terrain. Its average width would thus be approximately half that of a four-lane NH flanked by service roads on either side. Official sources said that none of the critics seemed to have focused their attention on the increase in pollution due to the influx of cars, two-wheelers and other vehicles when highways are commissioned. On the contrary, the SilverLine had the potential to wean people away from such highly polluting modes of transport, in keeping with the global shift to public-transport systems. Among them, trains were considered the most economical, energy-efficient and least polluting, official sources said.

Height of corridor

On the concerns over the height of the SilverLine corridor, Mr Ajith Kumar said it would be largely similar to the existing rail corridor from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangaluru. The main difference would be that curves in SilverLine would be much less, to carry trains operating at 200 kmph, he said.

“A rapid-environment impact assessment (EIA) was done for SilverLine [by the Centre for Environment and Development, Thiruvananthapuram] although the Centre does not insist on EIA for railway projects. Likewise, a comprehensive EIA study spanning over a year by a New Delhi-based agency has begun.”

In addition, care would be taken to minimise the project’s ecological impact. Thus, one-third of the earth needed for the embankment would be met from the areas that would be levelled for the rail corridor, sources said.

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