ABSTRACT

The PEIA a novel approach in the field of EIA, a demanding and multifaceted undertaking involving the collaborative efforts of experts from various disciplines, including environmental science, earth science, life science, biodiversity, and social science, along with the dedicated contributions of volunteers from the KSSP and the active participation of the local community.

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The Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) is pleased to release the People’s Participatory Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) on the K-Rail – SilverLine Project of KRDCL. The PEIA is the culmination of a comprehensive and participatory process that involved a wide range of stakeholders, including environmental experts, social activists, and affected communities.

The SilverLine project is a proposed semi-high-speed rail corridor that would connect Thiruvananthapuram in the south of Kerala to Kasargod in the north. While the Cabinet of the Kerala Government approved the SilverLine project in July 2020, it was only after a year, as fieldwork of the Project was about to begin, that significant opposition arose. Concerns have been raised about the project’s environmental impact, social impact, and financial viability.

Similar to other recent debates that have emerged in Kerala society, the SilverLine debate has also drawn sharp divisions, with one side vehemently supporting the project, the other aggressively opposing it, and various shades of both views filling the middle ground. Discussions were also triggered among civil society, environmental workers, and social scientists, with social media flooding with facts, aspirations, and even abuses.

However, this debate has missed an opportunity to provide the general public with access to facts and to enable them to form an informed opinion on matters that impact their well-being. In fact, the SilverLine project, if completed, has the potential to affect many generations to come and influence Kerala’s future development in numerous ways.

As a people’s science movement, the KSSP has been studying Kerala’s transport system for many years. Over the past 25 years, following organizational interventions in various developmental issues and incorporating expert inputs, KSSP has also developed a Transport Policy for Kerala that aligns with the state’s development perspective.

KSSP initially published a digital pamphlet and issued an official press release regarding the SilverLine project on July 1, 2021. In the press release, KSSP urged the state government to halt project work temporarily until a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is prepared, and the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is released. KSSP also called for a thorough public discussion among the public.

Meanwhile, an RTI request for the DPR was rejected on the grounds of copyright issues. As a result, KSSP formed a committee to formulate a preliminary opinion on the 5 project. The committee gathered details from appropriate sources and prepared an initial report on the project. In August 2021, KSSP published a Malayalam pamphlet titled “കെ റെയിലും കേരളത്തിലെ ഗതാതഗതവും” (K-Rail and Kerala’s Transport).

The pamphlet primarily focused on the project’s economic, financial, social, technical, and political aspects, excluding environmental issues. Based on the findings, the pamphlet summarised KSSP’s position on the project as “SilverLine is not a priority for Kerala’s transport system”

In the absence of a comprehensive EIA, it was difficult to assess the project’s impact on the environment. Consequently, a Technical Committee (TC) was formed to prepare an EIA in a participatory mode. Members of the TC were chosen to include individuals with diverse areas of expertise relevant to the study’s scope.

Field survey and Geo-tagging of the entire 530 km SilverLine stretch was completed during the summer of 2022 in a participatory manner by over 1,000 trained volunteers. The Parisara Vishyasamithi (Environment Subject Committee), IT sub-committee, and GIS department of IRTC, in conjunction with Jilla Committees of KSSP, oversaw the entire activity. The Technical Committee promptly corroborated the vast amount of data collected from the field with secondary data from various sources to ensure its accuracy.

Subsequently, the Technical Committee undertook an extensive process of statistical and analytical work, focus group discussions, and interdisciplinary communions to finalize the report. After receiving approval from the Executive Committee of KSSP and formal approval from the General Council, the report is now being placed before the people of Kerala.

This report, the PEIA, can be marked as a unique attempt in the history of Citizen Science Initiatives in the country. I shall take this opportunity to appreciate and thank all KSSP workers who toiled in the field, the experts in the Technical Committee who dedicated a huge amount of their personal time, and the external experts who shared their scholarly comments at various stages of forming this report.

We present this report before the esteemed intelligentsia of the State. It is our hope that the PEIA will provide the general public with the essential information they need for informed decision-making. KSSP believes that this will be helpful in initiating a public dialogue that will eventually lead to the democratic selection of the most suitable, people centric developmental solutions.

B Ramesh, Thiruvananthapuram. President, KSSP.

20 November 2023,


More  Maps and Data : Visit Parishath Wiki

DOWNLOADS

  1. People’s Participatory Environmental Impact Analysis of SilverLine The Semi High Speed Rail Project of Kerala – Report 2023
  2. Secondary maps
  3. Maps LULC
  4. Maps Biomass
  5. Maps Flood Height (From Field)
  6. Maps Proposed activity
  7. Map Drainage