January 17, 2022 3:18:47 pm
A group of development professionals and writers, some of them known for their Leftist leanings, has urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to freeze the government decision to go ahead with the proposed SilverLine high-speed rail corridor project.
In an open letter to the chief minister, the signatories said the “citizens have a right to know before a right to go” is given for the north-south rail corridor which would “spell disaster” for the state.
According to the signatories, the state’s fragile public finance and increasing ecological vulnerability are major areas of concern. “The two devastating floods of 2018 and 2019 and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic since early 2020 are already presenting scenarios of an existential crisis for which the entire society and the state have to stand in unison to protect the people and the environment. This calls for reprioritizing our developmental agenda away from such massive construction projects as the proposed Silverline,” the petition said.
The signatories include nuclear engineer Dr M P Parameswaran, former planning board member G Vijayaraghavan, Prof R V G Menon who had served as the president of the pro-Left Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, former pro-VC of Kerala University Prof J Prabash, and development economist Dr K P Kannan.
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“What dismays us beyond words is that the Government has come out with this fully debt-funded, foreign technology-based, independent rail system in a unilateral declaratory fashion, without a much-needed political consensus and public debate. We would also appeal to the Government of Kerala to spell out why urgent issues of survival in the context of the heightening spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing basic developmental and welfare needs of the people are being side-lined by misplaced concreteness on a massive rail project of a specific kind,” they said.
“As development professionals and socially concerned writers and citizens, it is our collective responsibility to remind the esteemed decision-makers of the importance of societal consensus, in reinforcing inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable development,” the signatories pointed out.
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