Kerala family endorses SilverLine project during Union Minister V Muraleedharan’s protest campaign

Union Minister V Muraleedharan’s campaign against the Kerala government’s flagship SilverLine project saw a twist on Saturday as a family here publicly endorsed the rail corridor and informed him that they have no problem in parting with their land for the same even though he repeatedly tried to explain to them its ‘drawbacks’.

The embarrassing incident occurred at Kazhakkoottam here when the minister arrived to meet people and lend an ear to their concerns regarding the semi-high-speed rail project by visiting their homes as part of his anti-SilverLine campaign.

However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan once again rejected state-wide protests against the ambitious project and said people would receive compensation twice the market price for their acquired land.

The future of the land is more important, he said while speaking at a function in Kozhikode and urged the media not to act as “megaphones” of anti-development campaigners.

Meanwhile, Muraleedharan, in the visuals aired by the television channels, could be seen visiting the house of an elderly couple and trying to talk to them.

As soon as he stepped into their premises, the woman in the house raised slogans praising Vijayan and his development programmes. “We are with the government…Our land is for the development programme,” she said and wanted the SilverLine project to be implemented in the southern state.

Though visibly surprised at the unexpected turn of events, the minister tried to talk and convince them but the elderly woman said she did not want to hear anything from him as they had enough knowledge about the project. Her husband also made it clear that they had no qualms in giving away the land and were ready to shift to another property owned by the family if the present place is acquired for the rail corridor.

The woman told reporters that they were hardcore sympathisers of the ruling CPI(M).

The embarrassed minister later said the objective of his house visits was to know who were supporting the project and who were raising objections and to listen to their concerns.

Muraleedhran then resumed the campaign by visiting other houses. Local BJP leaders, however, said the elderly couple supported the SilverLine as their daughter was the ward councillor of the Marxist party.

Meanwhile, Kerala continued to witness intense protests against the proposed SilverLine alias K-Rail project which is envisaged to cover a 530-kilometre stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in less than four hours.

Various districts including Kozhikode, Malappuram, Alappuzha, Kasaragod and Kochi witnessed protest on Saturday. The SilverLine project aims to ease transportation along the entire north-south of Kerala and reduce the travel time to less than four hours as against 12-14 hours.

The Rs 64,000 crore semi-high-speed rail line would have 11 stations. The Left government in the state is going forward with the SilverLine project despite stiff objections raised by the opposition Congress-UDF and BJP.

However, putting his party in a fix, senior Congress leader and former union minister K V Thomas reportedly pitched for the Silver Line project, saying he does not see politics in development matters and protests are natural while taking over land for such projects.

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