Pinarayi Vijayan gets PM assurance of support for semi-high-speed railway system in Kerala

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Vijayan, who has in the national capital for two days from Monday, had sought the Prime Minister’s assistance for the state’s development projects.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan meets Delhi riot victims at Kerala Bhavan in Delhi, Wednesday. CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat (left) were also present.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan meets Delhi riot victims at Kerala Bhavan in Delhi, Wednesday. CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat (left) were also present.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of the Centre’s “wholehearted support” to the state’s ambitious SilverLine project, a semi-high-speed railway system aimed at reducing travel time between Kasargod district in the state’s northernmost tip and Thiruvananthapuram in south — a distance of nearly 600 km — it is learnt.

Vijayan, who has in the national capital for two days from Monday, had sought the Prime Minister’s assistance for the state’s development projects. “The Prime Minister assured all support to Kerala’s development,” Vijayan’s office said on Wednesday.

In his first visit to Delhi after returning to power, defying Kerala’s three-decade-old political history of alternate governments by the Left and the Congress-led UDF, Vijayan also met Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Puri, and Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Ashwani Vaishnaw.

According to sources, during his meeting with Modi, Vijayan also discussed the Covid-19 situation in Kerala, where the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) continues to be high at 10 per cent. He is learnt to have explained that the state has given thrust to keep the mortality rate low and its health infrastructure has not failed at any time during the pandemic.

“The Prime Minister was convinced of the points raised by the Chief Minister and was appreciative of Kerala’s achievements in the health sector,” an official said.

During his meeting with Modi, Vijayan is learnt to have urged the Centre to provide the pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) amounting to Rs 4,524 crore related to 2020-21 financial year.

“The Chief Minister’s visit was to give a big push to the infrastructure projects in Kerala. The Prime Minister assured all support to Kerala’s development dreams,”said Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, who was part of Vijayan’s team in his visit to the Prime Minister.

The team also had a detailed discussion about the state’s projects with Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P K Mishra, it is learnt.

Kerala has already signed a joint venture with the Railways for the SilverLine project, estimated to cost over Rs 60,000 crore. Niti Aayog has given the project its go ahead and it is awaiting final clearance from the Railways, Brittas said.

Vijayan discussed plans to develop inland water transport in Kerala, and Modi asked the state to explore the possibility of promoting water transport, Brittas said. Urging the state to consider ferry service options, he said Kerala could emulate the Varanasi-Kolkata waterway model.

Vijayan is also learnt to have taken up the long-pending demand for an AIIMS in Kerala, as also inclusion of Kannur International Airport under the ASEAN Open Sky Agreement, and sought permission for land acquisition for Kozhikode airport so that it can handle big flights.

On the health sector, Vijayan is learnt to have told Modi that Kerala’s social capital, which includes primary health centres, people’s participatory programmes and healthy local governments and delivery system, has helped the state build a good health infrastructure. He pointed out that Kerala conducts aggressive Covid-19 testing, and that most people testing positive for the infection are asymptomatic, it is learnt.

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