KOCHI: The Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi high-speed rail corridor, the final alignment of which was approved by the state cabinet a fortnight ago, will displace many families and pass through the lands of several farmers. But the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), which is in charge of executing the project, also known as Silverline, said they can breathe easy.K-Rail plans to move the houses to nearby plots without disturbing the structure and opt for elevated rail wherever it has to pass through paddy fields to minimise the environmental impact. 

“Many houses were moved to a higher plane after the 2018 floods to protect them from calamities in the future. We too plan to move the houses that lie along the final alignment using modern technology. Nearly 10,000 houses are situated on the route and half of them can be saved by moving them by one to five metres,”

As per the current plan, an elevated path will be used for 88km and the cut-and-cover tunnel method for 22km.  Cut-and-cover construction, to be used on stretches with 9-20 metre-deep cuttings, involves the use of excavation equipment to dig a large trench or rectangular hole in the ground which is then covered by a concrete deck.

“There are lots of complaints about paddy fields getting filled up (for the project). We’ll build elevated paths in such locations. The aim is to minimise the environmental and social impact as much as possible,” he said.Silverline track will be laid parallel to the existing railway track between Kasaragod and Tirur (220.6km), and will take a different path between Tirur and Thiruvananthapuram (310km).

As per the detailed project report, K-Rail will have to acquire about 1,383 hectares of land for the 530.6-km corridor. It includes 185 hectares of railway land and 1,198 hectares of private land. While 67 per cent of the land falls under the panchayat area, 15 per cent is in the municipal area and 18 per cent in the corporation limits. “As the rail line passes mainly through villages, there will be sufficient space to move the houses. With enough amount earmarked for compensation, we can do it and protect the investment of a lifetime. Even while moving, a portion of compensation will be given to the landowners,” said Ajith Kumar, managing director, KRDCL.

Land acquisition will be based on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. In the Rs 63,941-crore project, Rs 11,535 crore has been earmarked for compensation. Of this Rs 6,100 crore will be for acquiring private land, Rs 975 crore for taking over railway land and RS 4,460 crore to pay compensation for damage caused to structures. Another Rs 1,730 crore has been set aside for resettlement and rehabilitation.

“We’re studying every public representation. We are not going to forcibly evict anybody or acquire their land. The final decisions regarding land acquisition will be taken only after analysing the social impact. Separate impact studies will be conducted by Collectors of each district. Discussions with public forums and other procedures will happen in the next stage. Several such studies are going to happen in the coming one-and-a-half years,” he said.

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