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Kerala's Disaster Relief Fund asked to pay for Pinarayi Vijayan's helicopter ride; CMO cancels payment order after criticism

Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM-led LDF government in Kerala was left red-faced on Tuesday after it cancelled an order for payment of an helicopter journey conducted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, from the State Disaster Relief Fund, with the issue triggering a row.

A statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said the order for the payment has been cancelled as per the chief minister's directive.

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

The helicopter was hired for Vijayan's "to and fro journey" from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram on 26 December.

As per the order, the cost of the journey was Rs 8 lakh.

With the Congress slamming the government for allegedly misusing the fund meant for Cyclone Ockhi relief work, the CMO issued a statement later in the day stating that the order for the payment from the state disaster relief fund was cancelled.

The statement said the order for the payment was issued without the knowledge of the chief minister or the CMO.

It also clarified that the helicopter was hired for Vijayan and other ministers' journey on 26 December for a meeting with the visiting inter-ministerial central team that had come to assess the damage caused by the cyclone.

That was the reason the State Disaster Management Authority issued an order for the payment from the disaster fund, it was stated.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala hit out at the government and said it was very unfortunate that the chief minister used the fund meant for cyclone victims for travelling from a party conference venue.

Vijayan was in Thrissur to attend the CPM district Committee meeting.

Chennithala also claimed the order for the payment was issued on 6 January and it was cancelled after the "government was caught red-handed."

The government "virtually wriggled out" of the matter by cancelling the order, he added.

Updated Date: Jan 10, 2018 10:25 AM

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