With the opposition Congress slamming the government for allegedly misusing the fund meant for Ockhi Cyclone 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.
Kerala DGP Loknath Behera on Wednesday clarified that his department has not advised for a chopper ride by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 26.The DGP said this following allegation that the expense of the Chief Minister's helicopter journey was reimbursed from the State Disaster Relief Fund sanctioned for Ockhi Cyclone victims."We are not giving guidelines for any mode of travel".
Gone are the days when the party was deeply divided between Vijayan and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who, even though he led the campaign from the 2016 assembly elections, was upstaged by the former and prevented from occupying for the Chief Minister's chair a second time. In the government order itself, the name of the Private Secretary of the Chief Minister is mentioned.
KM Ambraham also said that there are three Ockhi-related funds viz. Ockhi Disaster Relief Fund, The Chief Minister's Relief Fund and the central fund.
State revenue minister E Chandrasekharan, a CPI nominee, sought an explanation from the additional chief secretary for paying from the relief fund for the chief minister's tour to attend a CPM event.
However, he did not name anyone.
The CBI, in its appeal, said there was "ample material to show the involvement" of Mr. Vijayan in the Lavalin deal.
The chief-minister, however, has denied this and said that the Opposition parties have been purposely making a case out of nothing.
The BJP State General Secretary M T Ramesh wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking to monitor the utilisation of Ockhi Relief Fund, a party release said. The BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan said diverting SDRF fund was a "heartless" action and a criminal offence. Had he not met the central team, it would have triggered another controversy, the CM said.
Vijayan returned to Thiruvananthapuram in the chartered helicopter for two functions in the state capital, including a meeting with the central team that came to review the damage cause by the cyclone. That was why the State Disaster Management Authority issued the order for the payment from the disaster relief fund, it was stated. The order was issued without the knowledge of the CM's office, it said.