SilverLine, the semi high-speed rail corridor, is designed to achieve environmental sustainability. It will contribute significantly to the economic growth of the State and also its role to the accomplishment of the United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ is predominant.
Rail projects are excluded from the Schedule of the EIA Notification 2006, and the SilverLine does not require Environmental Clearance (EC) from the Central Government. K-Rail, being an environmentally conscious organisation, have undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment study which in turn helped in planning and designing of the SilverLine alignment with environmentally friendly structures. The EIA study also aided in making adequate provision of environmental clauses in work contracts to eliminate or mitigate all possible adverse impacts on the environment significantly. Accordingly, the alignment of SilverLine has been meticulously selected and finalised to avoid and minimise intrusion and acquisition of sensitive environmental areas, thereby ensuring negligible/least damage to flora and fauna of the region.
Environmental & Socio-Economic benefits of the Project
- Reduction in travel time, connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in 4 hours.
- Decongestion of road traffic and reduced dependence on fossil fuel.
- Improvement of air quality in all the major connecting cities of the state.
- Reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions as rail is the most efficient transportation option in comparison to all modes of transport (Approx. 2.88 lakh tonnes CO2e/year).
- Energy-Efficient mode compared to other modes of transportation.
- Reduction in accidents on roads (Kerala has the highest rate of road accidents in India).
- Fast accessibility to urban centres, leading to economic and industrial growth.
How the Environmental Sustainability will be achieved for the SilverLine Project
SilverLine activities are designed to have minimal environmental and social impact. An Environmental Management Plan has been prepared, and suitable mitigation measures for anticipated land, air, water, and noise pollution during construction and operation phases have been recommended. Noise barriers and vibration mitigation measures are proposed during the design stage. Key measures for the environmental sustainability suggested in DPR are;
A) Control of Emissions (Air, Noise & Vibration)
- Dust control and its effiective management on all sites adopting various measures, such as limiting the speed of vehicles carrying construction materials, covering all trucks/dumpers carrying fine-grained loose materials with secured tarpaulins, regular water sprinkling on unpaved roads etc.
- Noise & Vibration reduction & abatement measures will be in-built in project design, locomotive technology, track design and construction methodology.
- Regular environmental monitoring for air, water, soil, noise, etc.
B) Water Conservation
- Use of efficient fixtures in toilets and washrooms at sites to reduce the wastage.
- Regular maintenance and repairing of the water supply network and wastewater carrying pipeline to ensure that there is no leakage or obstruction to flow.
- During monsoon, the rainwater from the rooftop of site huts is collected in tanks and later reused for dust suppression, landscaping/gardening.
- Recharging through water harvesting methods along the project corridor and adopting rainwater harvesting scheme at stations and depots.
- Training & awareness among workers, engineers, etc. on behaviour issues regarding usage of water.
C) Construction Materials and Waste Management
- Encourage maximum use of locally available materials to reduce transportation impacts.
- Recycling & Reuse of waste within the worksites itself.
- All Contractors shall be contractually obliged to prepare, implement, and monitor “Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste, C&D Waste and e-Waste Management”.
D) Biodiversity Conservation
- Landscaping and development of green belt have been recommended in the open spaces in all the offices, stations, depot, parking areas and along the corridor to reduce pollution, enhance the aesthetic view and to have a positive effect on the surrounding environment.
- Turfing of the embankment with clay puddles to achieve the lust green view of the Railway track and also to protect the bank against erosion.
Climate Change and GHG Emission control – Prime agenda of SilverLine
SilverLine Rail Transport is a highly energy-efficient means of transport, and the consumption of energy per unit load per km is much lower than road and air modes. It is planned to use 100% of power from renewable sources like solar by in-house production, purchase of renewable power from a third party and KSEBL. Considering the evaluation of the complete life cycle of transportation systems in terms of sustainability, SilverLine Rail is the greener and most efficient mode of transport. SilverLine being a low carbon transport mode offering great potential for decarbonising transport and can play an important role in the fight against climate change.
Environmental Enhancement Measures (EEM) in SilverLine
- Green Building: All station buildings, depot, administrative building and other service buildings are designed based on the standard of Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
- Renewable Energy: Installation of solar panels is proposed along the corridor, the rooftop of all stations and depots. Total power from renewable sources like solar by in-house production, purchase of renewable power from a third party and KSEBL.
- Green Belt Development: Development of green belt recommended in the open spaces, stations, depots, parking areas and along the corridors to reduce pollution and to enhance the aesthetic view.
- Rejuvenation of Abandoned Paddy Fields: About 30 Ha of paddy field will be redeveloped and reclaimed as paddy field, and in addition to this, approximately 10 Ha of the follow land will be converted as a paddy field.
- Waste Management: Waste management process and machinery is indeed a part of the SilverLine project. Treatment plants are proposed in all Depots for the treatment of the maintenance wastes. Similarly, wastes from the trains are to be collected, treated and disposed off properly. Construction wastes generated in the project shall be segregated, recycled and reused to the maximum extent. Construction & Demolition wastes shall be managed as per C&D Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- Bio-Toilets in the Trains: Bio-toilets shall be provided in the trains as a measure of environmental protection and cleanliness in the corridor, stations and yards.
- Electrically Operated Feeder Services: Battery operated buses and rickshaws are proposed to operate in all the stations for connecting the passengers to the city centre and main locations near to the stations.