K-Rail project will be Lefts Waterloo moment, says Kerala Oppn Leader

K-Rail project will be Left's Waterloo moment, says Kerala Oppn Leader

Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan on Tuesday launched a broadside against the Left government on the K-Rail issue, alleging that it was adopting “an extreme right-wing” stand on the matter.

The Congress leader, who is actively campaigning against CPI(M)-led government’s flagship K-Rail initiative, also known as SilverLine, warned the ruling party for undermining the peoples protest against the multi-crore semi-high speed railway project, saying it will become the “Waterloo” for the party in Kerala.

“The CPI(M)-led government is following the same right-wing path of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre on this matter. The BJP government can do this as that party is extreme right,” Satheesan said here, adding that the Left is only a namesake for the present leadership of the CPI(M) as a policy shift has happened to it from the Left to extreme right.

A SilverLine survey stone

Briefing the reporters about the ongoing protests in the state over the SilverLine rail project here, the Opposition leader said the agitation would grow further as a mass movement and become a “Waterloo” for the CPI(M) in Kerala just as it lost its base in West Bengal after Nandigram struggle that put an end to the over three-decade-old CPI(M) rule in that state.

Also Read: SilverLine project good for state; will go ahead, says Kerala CM

In 2007, many farmers were killed in police firing during an anti-land acquisition stir in Nandigram.

“We support this people’s agitation against the SilverLine. Non-bailable cases have been registered against our partymen. The CPI(M) had done the same thing against the people who had protested in Nandigram and Singur. Finally, it became the waterloo for the CPI(M) in West Bengal. SiverLine agitation is going to become waterloo for CPI(M) in Kerala,” Satheesan said.

The Paravoor MLA dismissed the CPI(M) allegation that the Congress and the BJP have joined hands to destabilise the Left government in Kerala.

“That narrative will not work,” he said as top leaders of the CPI(M) landed in Kannur to attend the 23rd party congress of the Left party.

The five-day long mega conference of the CPI(M), known as the Party Congress, will begin on Wednesday.

Criticising the BJPs agitation headed by Union Minister V Muraleedharan against the K-Rail project, Satheesan urged the leadership of the saffron party to apprise Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the protests happening in Kerala against the project and persuade him to declare that it will not be sanctioned.

Asked about the purported Maoist posters announcing the outlawed outfit’s support to the movement by people opposing the project, Satheesan said his party opposes the ideology of the Naxals but made it clear that they have also got a space in the society.

“We have differences with the Maoists. We are against killing them in planned encounters. Nine Maoists were killed by Pinarayi Vijayan’s police through fake encounters,” Satheesan alleged.

Also Read: Why Pinarayi govt’s ambitious SilverLine project is facing hurdles?

He said there are still some unanswered questions with respect to the proposed SilverLine project that looms large before the state government.

Noting that the state’s finances are already in a funk and on the verge of collapsing, Satheesan said the multi-crore project, which the government estimates to cost Rs 64,000 crore, threatens to overburden the already depleted exchequer.

“The Niti Aayog estimates that it will cost Rs 1.5 lakh crore, with experts predicting that it will cost at least Rs 2 lakh crore. Can a cash economy like ours, or a consumer state like Kerala, afford such massive debt?” he asked.

The Congress leader asked why should Kerala embrace the redundant technology of the standard gauge when the world, including Japan, is shifting to the broad gauge.
“Is this a tied condition to the loans from funding agencies like Japanese funding agency JICA,” he asked.

Referring to the devastating Kerala floods and landslides of 2018 and 2019, Satheesan said with the proposed project passing through 164 hydrologically sensitive areas, it will be an environmental catastrophe.

“Any project in an ecologically fragile and climatically vulnerable state like Kerala should take into consideration all the environmental concerns and possible climate emergencies,” he said, adding the government is also silent on the source of lakhs of tonnes of granite and soil required for construction.

The 530-km stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod is proposed to be developed by K-Rail — a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Railway Ministry for developing railway infrastructure in the southern state.

Starting from the state capital, SilverLine trains will have stoppages at Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod. Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan on Tuesday launched a broadside against the Left government on the K-Rail issue, alleging that it was adopting “an extreme right-wing” stand on the matter.

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