Thiruvananthapuram: The government of Kerala has expressed its willingness to take on the financial commitments of the proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-high speed rail corridor or the SilverLine project.
Kerala said it was ready in a letter sent to the central government after the latter refused to support the state’s overseas loan offer for Rs 33,700 crore for the planned 64,000 crore rail corridor of Rs and 532 kilometers.
The letter was sent by the Principal Secretary (Transport), KR Jyothilal, with the approval of the Finance Department.
For Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the project is prestigious and he had told the Legislature earlier that it would be implemented at any cost.
The state government approached the central government because the latter’s authorization is a prerequisite for contracting loans from foreign agencies. With its neck in a nascent debt, the State does not have the capacity to take on its shoulders the enormous financial commitments to be borne for the SilverLine project.
The Kerala government expected aid of Rs 2,150 crore from the center. As the Center rejected the request for a permanent state guarantee for foreign loans, the question of the allocation of the central fund is also uncertain. As a result, the state government must start from scratch in order to mobilize resources for the implementation of the SilverLine project.
The loan required for the project is estimated at Rs 33,700 crore. The Center took a strong stand against the SilverLine project on the grounds that a small state like Kerala did not have the capacity to bear such a huge financial responsibility. In addition, various political parties and environmental groups have spoken out against the project.
In addition to proving that the project will be profitable, the other challenge for the state government is to find ways to end the dissent in order to gain central government approval for the project.
The estimated cost for the project is Rs 63,941 crore. But the Center expects an expense of 2.10 lakh crore for the project.