THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A group of renowned scholars and cultural leaders in Kerala wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday, urging him to declare a freeze on the SilverLine semi-high speed train project, until A diligent articulation of priorities in making a New Kerala is in place.
Signatories include botanist and ecologist MK Prasad, nuclear engineer and popular science activist MP Parameswaran, development economist KP Kannan, energy expert RVG Menon and poets K Satchidanandan and KG Sanakara Pillai.
Here is the full text of the Open Letter:
Citizens have a right to know before a right to go is granted for the Silverline
As members of a community of concerned citizens and development professionals, we express our deep apprehension that the planned independent high-speed rail system called Silverline is a disaster for Kerala society in multiple ways. Two areas of outstanding concern are: (1) the fragility of the state government’s public finances; and (2) the state’s growing ecological vulnerability. The two devastating floods of 2018 and 2019 and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020 already present existential crisis scenarios for which the whole society and the state must come together to protect people and the environment. . This calls for reprioritizing our development program away from such massive construction projects as the proposed Silverline.
What appalls us beyond words is that the government of Kerala has developed this independent, entirely debt-financed, foreign technology-based railway system in a one-sided declaratory manner without political consensus or public debate. indispensable.
Therefore, we call on the Prime Minister to urgently consider the following suggestions, made in the spirit of inclusive democracy.
1) The government of Kerala should declare a freeze on its decision to go ahead with this massive project, until a diligent articulation of priorities in making a new Kerala is in place.
2) As part of this broader vision of a new Kerala, the government of Kerala should publish a white paper outlining the state of affairs in the transport system, covering the existing five modes, namely road, rail , air, inland waters and the coast. waters. The white paper should also clarify the relative importance, in the further development of the transport system, of taking into account factors such as profitability, environmental sustainability and the existing human settlement pattern.
3) While agreeing that the existing railway system in Kerala needs more facilities and speed, we urge the government of Kerala to rigorously explore all options for improving the existing Indian railway system in Kerala, which are more cost-effective than the system currently proposed. .
4) We also urge the government of Kerala to discuss the transport problems of the state and its solutions in the Kerala Legislative Assembly, where even minor projects have been discussed at length since its formation. Given the dynamic nature of the public sphere in Kerala with an informed public, we are sure that it will also generate the much needed creative inputs from the public sphere.
5) We would also like to ask the government of Kerala to explain why the urgent issues of survival amid the growing spread of the Covid 19 pandemic and the basic development and welfare needs of the people are being sidelined by a concrete misplaced on a massive railway project of a specific type.
Indeed, the state government should take cognizance of the deep anxieties and doubts among those sections of Kerala society, who are going to be directly affected, as well as the wider population, who harbor fears about its future implications. . We would like to remind State decision-makers that the denial of the People’s Right to Know is the denial of the spirit of democratic governance. This would have serious implications for future governance.
As development professionals and writers and socially concerned citizens, it is our collective responsibility to remind esteemed decision makers of the importance of societal consensus, to strengthen inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable development.
We sincerely hope that all political parties will rise to this challenge.
Professor MK Prasad, Botanist and Environmental Educator, Former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Calicut; former Executive Vice President, Information Kerala Mission, Government of Kerala; and former President, President of Kerala Sastra Sahitya.
Dr MP Parameswaran, nuclear engineer and popular science activist and former secretary, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi.
Dr MA Oommen, Development Economist and Honorary Fellow, Center for Development Studies, Former Professor, Institute of Social Studies, New Delhi, Former Chairman, Kerala State Finance Commission.
Dr CTS Nair, Environmental Expert and Former Vice Chairman, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, Government of Kerala, Former Chief Economist (Forestry), Food and Agriculture Organization agriculture, Rome and former director, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi.
G. Vijayaraghavan, Management Expert, Former Member, Kderala State Planning Board and Former CEO, TechnoPark, Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr RVG, Menon, Writer and Energy Expert, Former President, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Former Director, Center for Integrated Rural Technology, Palakkad; Former Director, Agency for Unconventional Energy Resources and Technology (ANERT), Government of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr KP Kannan, Development Economist and Honorary Fellow (and former Director), Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr Khadeeja Mumthaz, Writer and Professor, Government Medical College, Calicut.
BRP Bhaskar, journalist and social activist.
MK Das, Writer and Former Resident Editor, The Indian Express, Kochi.
MG Radhakrishnan, writer and senior journalist.
Dr. KG Thara, Former Member of State Disaster Management Authority and Former Head of Disaster Management Centre, Government of Kerala.
Dr. Rajeswari S. Raina, Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University, Dadri, UP
Dr. TR Suma, Scientist, Hume Center for Ecology and Wildlife Biology, Wayanad, Kerala.
Dr. Tara Nair, Professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad
Sarita Mohanan Bhama (formerly Sarita Mohanan Varma), writer and journalist, formerly at Financial Express.
Dr KG Sankara Pillai, Writer and Former Principal, Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.
Professor K. Sachidanandan, Poet and Writer, Former Secretary, Kendreeya Sahitya Academy, New Delhi.
G. Raveendran, Former Additional Director General, Central Statistical Organization, Government of India.
Dr CP Rajendran, Geologist and Professor, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Engineer and Independent Researcher, Environment and Climate Change.
Dr KV Thomas, Former Scientist G and Group Leader, NCESS, Thiruvananthapuram, and
former Dean, Faculty of Climate Variability and Aquatic Ecosystems, KUFOS, Kochi.
Professor K. Sreedharan, Former Chairman, KSSP, Former Director, Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Palakkad and Former Professor of Physics, Devagiri college, Kozhikode.
Professor TP Kunhikannan, Former President, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Chairman and Former Head of Department of Economics, Government Arts and Science College, Parambra, Kozhikode.
KK Krishnakumar, popular science activist and former president, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti.
Dr NK Sasidharan Pilla, Former Director, Center for Integrated Rural Technology, Mundur, Palakkad.
Dr S. Srikumar, Former Head of Department of Geology, Christ College, Irinjalakkuda and Former Director, Integrated Technology Centre, Palakkad.
Dr. V. Ramankutty, Public Health Expert and Former Director, Achutha Menon Center for Health Science Studies, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
Dr. John Kurien, Environmental Economist and Former Fellow, Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr. Srikumar Chatopadhyaya, Geographer and Former Scientist, Center for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.
G. Madhusoodhanan, IAS (retired), writer and environmental thinker, Pune.
Dr. J. Prabhash, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University and former Head of Department of Political Science, University of Kerala. G. Sajan, popular science activist and former program director of Dy, Door Darshan Kendra, Thiruvananthapuram. Dr KT Rammohan, Economic Historian and Former Dean, School of Social Sciences, MG University, Kottayam
Dr. NC Narayanan, Professor, Ashank Desai Center for Policy Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
Dr M. Kabir, Development Economist and former Head of Department of Economics, Government Women’s College, Trivandrum.
Mr. Suresh Babu, Professor of Economics, Department of Humanities, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.