Skip to main content

Kerala Silver Line follows 'exploitative' Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train agenda

Counterview Desk 

An “urgent appeal”, floated by the top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), and addressed to the national leadership of CPI(M) seeking to scrap Kerala’s controversial Silver Line Project, has said, the “decision to build a humongous semi high speed rail corridor from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram” is proving to be a “a symbol of the hyper neo-liberal and economy depleting agenda.”
Pointing out that the project has seen massive and widespread protests of common people and organizations from all over the State since many months, the appeal, which is seeking signatures from concerned citizens, believes it would lead to “huge social and environmental costs”, hence it should be withdrawn forthwith”.

Text:

It is with utmost shock and concern that we see the latest developments in Kerala, the only state where the Left forces still hold fort in India. The proposal of the Government of Kerala, under the leadership of Comrade Pinarayi Vijayan, to build a humongous semi high speed rail corridor from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram, named the Silver Line is seeing massive and widespread protest of common people from all over the state.
We have been viewing the various responses, including protests and jathas, from the villages and towns through which this rail line passes, and they cannot be simply passed over as “politically motivated”. We understand and fully recognize that they are genuine community voices, and many of them are voices from the same people who stood strongly with the Left Democratic Front and many had voted LDF to power. These voices need to be read as warning signals. We also see the shift of these people into other political options, including the right wing, which should be of grave concern to the ruling LDF.
We are also well aware of the voices of many of the co-travellers of the political left – social scientists, economists, civil society movements, environmentalists, engineers, development leaders, writers, cultural leaders, journalists and even those members of the society that carry the legacy of our erstwhile leaders, both by blood and by sweat. All of them have voiced their clear opinion against going ahead with this project. All of them have also made it clear they are not against ‘development’, but this project is not the development that this state needs, rather it is destructive on its precarious ecology , environmental issues related to the flood affected state, and on the economy, which is already in shambles following the unprecedented shocks of recurring floods, landslides, and the pandemic.
The Government, we understand has been clearly warned, repeatedly and persistently, of the various pitfalls of this project. Its huge cost and duration of implementation, unconvincingly shown low, its miserably poor project documents replete with inadequacies, data manipulation, deficient methodologies, and even data fudging, are all now too well known. Development economists of repute have challenged the financial viability of this project with the proponents' own data. Expert railway engineers have demonstrated that this project is technically not viable with the datasets given in the DPR. Environmental experts have exposed the massive impacts this project could inflict on the highly vulnerable ecosystems and landscape of Kerala.
EIA ( Environmental Impact Assessment), SIA ( Social Impact Assessment), evaluation of technical and financial feasibility of the project are yet to be completed. Before all these activities it is not at all fair and just to push the project ahead, that too by use of police forces to suppress the resistances from common people.
Communist parties and Left should desist from falling into same line of thinking as other neo-liberal parties
Ironically, the CPI-M itself, through its party mouthpiece has pointed out the neo-liberal and exploitative nature of a similar project that runs between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. It is indeed shocking to see the same CPI-M using all means, including coercion to silence the strong voices of their own protest leaders. They are seen desperately trying to explain why these two projects are 'different'! 
It’s true one is a High Speed rail and the other is a Semi High speed rail, but the issue was never about the speed. It was about the economic design of the project – the Japanese funding and technology deal, the PPP model, the systematic wrecking of the public sector Indian railways, the land acquisition issues, the environmental issues and worse the huge financial burden that both these projects will transfer to the common people.
We strongly feel that the communist parties and the left, especially the CPI-M and the CPI should desist from falling into the same line of thinking as the other neo-liberal parties in India, especially where they are in power. 
It should chart a development path that continues to be equitable and inclusive of both the people, the environment and the delicate economy of a rural India. It should not toe the line of corporate-driven agenda, a trap that the Central Govt. seems to have thrown to the LDF in Kerala, and which the LDF seems to be walking into.
We earnestly request that the Silver Line project, a symbol of the hyper neo-liberal and economy depleting agenda, be scrapped forthwith. We request that the State Government of Kerala return back to its roots of a people-centric and inclusive development agenda.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Dalit scholar's comment on Lord Shiva 'harming' Muslims, 'damaging' secular cause

Shahid Siddiqui, Bobby Naqvi By Our Representative   Bobby Naqvi, who is with the "Gulf News", and is a well-known name among Muslim intellectuals, strongly objecting to the social media post of Prof Ratan Lal, has said that "a big reason for majoritarian hatred against Muslims is irresponsible remarks by people like Prof Ratan Lal of Delhi University." In a Facebook comment , which has attracted paise, among others, from journaliat-politician Shahid Siddiqui, Naqvi said, "Their commentary on Hinduism and icons of Hinduism (while angering religious and liberal Hindus alike) also triggers a massive backlash against Muslims. When the likes of Prof Lal criticize Hinduism on social media, Hindus bring Islam and Islamic practices and ask 'what about this' or 'what about that'." Naqvi insists, "Muslims (without their fault) and Islam get caught in this crossfire between the so called Hindu liberal class and the religious Hindus. And the ult

Why there's strong likelihood India may resurrect its presence in Afghan capital

By Anand K Sahay* Since India evacuated its mission in Afghanistan once the Taliban re-took Kabul last August practically under American aegis, following what came to be called the Taliban’s Doha “negotiations” with the US, New Delhi is evidently doing a re-think. It is considered likely that an Indian representation will soon be restored in Kabul, even if this will be small and not at the level of ambassador. This is reflective of realistic thinking. Of course, there can be no question at present of according recognition to the Taliban regime. That is likely to happen when a broad consensus amongst the leading powers emerges. Currently the Taliban government is not helping its own cause of gaining world recognition- which will help it access overseas funds at a time when the country is in dire straits- by imposing severe restrictions on women and girls in serious violation of human rights. More basic is the issue that the Taliban regime is not considered r

Message to 'high caste' attackers? Dalit leader's daughter rides elephant in wedding march

By Our Representative  In what has been termed as “jumbo celebration”, a Gujarat Dalit rights leader belonging to Saurashtra region ensured that his daughter rides an elephant as part of wedding celebrations which took place in Vadhwan town of Surendranagar district. Natubhai Parmar, who shot into prominence for organising a unique protest against the notorious Una flogging incident in 2016, in which five Dalit boys were flogged as they allegedly slaughtered a cow. Belonging to the Rohit community, whose traditionally live by skinning dead cows, in 2016, Parmar reached Surendranagar district collector’s office with vehicles full of carcasses of cows asking him to organise them disposal of, declaring, his community had decided not to continue with the caste occupation, as it had been termed cow slaughter by saffron vigilantes. The decision to make his daughter ride the elephant, which he brought to Ahmedabad, was to send a message to members of the dominant castes, whose aggressive atta

Govt of India 'ignores' GMO regulation, 'overlooks' Constitutional process

Counterview Desk Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi, independent public policy expert, in a letter to Nareshpal Gangwar, additional secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), New Delhi, has expressed “seriously concern” that a recent office memorandum (OM) has sought to exempt certain types of gene-edited plants from the country's genetically modified organism  (GMO) regulations, without any reason or basis or representation. Dr Reddy regretted, “Such a serious decision, with an impact scale of unimaginable proportions, in terms of time and ecology, is being pushed through an ordinary office memorandum”, insisting, “This is circumvention of the processes enshrined in Indian Constitution, which has defined democratic participation in matters of critical importance.” Stating that the exemption from regulation is a policy decision and has legal implications, he demanded immediate withdrawal the OM, insisting, the government should take a "strong stand again

Himalayan tragedy: Labour laws for migrant workers violated at Ramganga dam site

By Bharat Dogra* The extremely tragic death of 10 workers at a tunnel construction site in Ramban on Jammu-Srinagar highway has again drawn attention to the serious hazards faced by workers employed in highways and dams in Himalayan region, several of them in very remote areas. These workers were trapped after a landslide hit the under-construction tunnel on May 19, followed later by one more landslide. Apart from these deaths, the remaining workers suffered injuries. While overall conditions at many such construction sites are known to be hazardous, according to preliminary reports the risks here increased due to sub-contracts which resulted in work being handled by those who did not have much experience or knowledge of such hazardous conditions. Sub-contracting is a common practice in such work and the principal employer gets away with less legal liability for hazardous conditions. Workers face more risks under this system and their rights are adversely affected. This