Green light for semi-high-speed train line

#GS2 #GOVERNANCE #GS3 #INFRASTRUCTURE

The Kerala government has informed the NITI Aayog that the 529.45 km semi-high-speed rail Silver Line from Kochuveli to Kasaragod, estimated to cost ₹63,941 crore, is “viable and feasible”, and that the cost per kilometre of ₹120.77 crore for laying the corridor is “reasonable”.

  • The project awaiting Central clearance, the public-private partnership component of the joint venture between the Indian Railways and Kerala would be “improved” and that the “equity cash contribution” of Railways had been brought down from ₹7,720 crore to ₹2,150 crore.
  • Terming the cost of Silver Line “realistic”, the government said 70% of the alignment traversed “at grade” (the same level) compared with the 100% alignment via viaduct and tunnels of other projects. 
  • Among the measures adopted to reduce the cost were alignment through vacant land or least populated villages; 10 stations at the rate of 1.87 in 100 km; stone ballast for 475 km of track; modern technology for designing embankments on soft soil; and pre-cast construction for viaducts and bridges. 
  • By going for “at grade” alignment instead of the initial proposal of an elevated corridor, the cost had been brought down from ₹91,500 crore to ₹63,941 crore. 
  • On the concerns of NITI Aayog over cost of land acquisition and displacement, the government said costlier and built-up areas had been avoided
  • The cost of land along the National Highway and through interior areas was ₹18 crore per hectare and ₹9 crore per hectare respectively, which was justified. 
  • The process of granting administrative sanction for land acquisition had commenced and 80% of land would be acquired within 18 months, and the balance within the construction phase.
  • The detailed project report (DPR) had been prepared. Maximum possible revenue generation would be explored and modes adopted by the Kochi Metro would be looked into. The project was self-sustainable, the government submitted.
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