Alok Kumar Verma, former Chief Engineer, Indian Railways, has claimed that Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd. (K-Rail) has proposed tunnels, embankments, and viaducts as part of the SilverLine semi high-speed rail project without proper hydrological or building condition surveys.
He was here on Thursday to participate in a people’s debate on the project by the Janakeeya Prathirodha Samithi.
Mr. Verma said that the Kozhikode station had been proposed to come up in a 6.2-km long tunnel, making of which a 300 metre-long and 40 metre wide cavity would be required. This tunnel would come on both sides under the Kallai river just at a depth of around 25 metres. This type of construction was being proposed in a congested area, densely populated on either side of the station with buildings.
“We know that the ground is weak here. There is a chance of landslides. There is no tunnel right now in Kerala, either road tunnel or railway tunnel. You are going to make the first tunnel on a weak soil without doing geological survey or building condition survey,” he said. He pointed out that a building condition survey was required when a shallow tunnel at a depth of 35 metres would be built, because multi-storeyed buildings might develop cracks, they might tilt, in the worst case scenario, they might collapse also.
Mr. Verma said that the Thrissur station would be built on a 8.6-km long viaduct, whose height would be 20 metres. On that viaduct, there would be a station of six rail lines. “How will this massive structure be built without making proper ground or hydrological survey? There is a geo-technical survey that shows that 93% of the alignment of the project is on weak ground.”
He said there was another problem of high embankments. “Many of the embankments would be more than eight metres high, equalling two to three-storey buildings. At some places such as Chengannur, the embankment is 12 metres high, at some other places, it is more than 15 metres high,” he said. Mr. Verma wondered how such embankments could be proposed without hydrological survey in a flood-prone State.
E.R. Anand Mani, president, Kozhikode Management Association, pointed out that all the mistakes being pointed out against the project could be corrected. Land acquisition-related problems had been happening for long, whether it was for road or rail. He said that the problem of construction on loose soil can be tackled by competent engineers.
However, he said that the financial viability of the project is alarming. Joseph C. Mathew, aide to former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, and K.G. Thara, former head, State Institute for Land and Disaster Management Center, Thiruvananthapuram, were present.