Vizhinjam Port Railway plans to hit land under 138 survey numbers

While the Committee of Experts (EAC) has shelved the proposal to amend the Environmental Impact Assessment (EC) for the proposed underground tunnel rail link to the port of Vizhinjam, the Pre-land Acquisition Report on the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) shows that the owners of the land, spanning 138 survey numbers will be affected by the proposed project.

According to the report, nearly 500 trees have been identified as productive assets in the project area.

The acquired land serves as the main source of income for around 273 people.

Citing land restrictions and the need for additional resettlement and rehabilitation, the project promoter had planned to reroute the railway line through a tunnel beneath the land surface. The proposed route has a total length of 10.70 km, of which 9.43 km is the underground/tunnel route.

As the proposed rail connection mode was changed from surface to underground/tunnel, an environmental clearance change was requested.

The report notes that the implementation of the project will affect many commercial, industrial and residential buildings and result in the displacement of people. Many will lose their livelihood.

However, it also noted that many of the highlighted negative impacts can be minimized or reduced through effective and relevant mitigation actions and strategies.

The construction of the rail link from Vizhinjam International Seaport to Balaramapuram Railway Station requires the acquisition of 5,602 hectares of land spread over Balaramapuram and Pallichal Village in Neyyattinkara Taluk. Most of the land is used for residential, commercial and industrial purposes. The field survey shows that families using the land for farming will lose their income.

With the purchase of the property, 77 property owners with residential properties are directly affected. Several industrial or commercial buildings will also be affected, the report said.

The SIA report also describes the alternatives that were considered. For the proposed Vizhinjam rail link, the nearest stations are Nemom, Balaramapuram and Neyyattinkara on the Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil section of the Southern Railway.

Due to land restrictions and the need for additional resettlement and rehabilitation, a rail connection from Neyyattinkara was not recommended according to previous studies (R&R). In addition, there are also four temples on this route. The feasibility studies were also conducted in connection with the Nemom and Balaramapuram stations. In addition, four different possible routes were examined.

Balaramapuram railway station was chosen as the starting point for the proposed rail service after other options were considered, the report said.

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