As per the EIA notification in 2006, railways or railway projects are not included in it. The notification issued by MOEFCC on Sept 14, 2006 covers 39 development projects and activities including airports, ports, national highways, and buildings. This does not include railways or railway projects. Therefore, Silverline project doesn’t require environmental permission, the affidavit said. The affidavit further pointed out the incident of the Supreme Court staying the order of NGT seeking environment clearance for the Noida-Greater Noida Metro Rail project.
Meanwhile, Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) has appointed a consortium, led by EQMS India Ltd, to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment for Silverline project and asked it to complete the study and submit a report within 14 months.
Silverline rail project is envisioned as a complete green project, said K-Rail officials in an earlier affidavit filed before NGT. They also stated that the project is funded by foreign financial institutions that have strict systems in place to monitor the environment and social causes of the project. K-Rail stated that it will obtain all legal permits required from the MOEFCC on time.
Silverline is an ambitious project that aims to cover a distance of 530km from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in under four hours. The project is facing criticism from a cross-section of activists and public who consider it illogical and unwarranted, considering the ill effects it would have on the lives of thousands of evictees and the huge financial burden it would bring on the state.