A day after controversy erupted over diverting funds meant for Ockhi relief for his travel, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said there is nothing unusual about his helicopter trip.
The CM broke his silence on the issue while speaking at the inaugural function of CPI (M) Idukki district conference at Kattappna.
The CM said that there was absolutely no need of such heated debates on the issue and he needn’t know from which account the expenses are met.
Addressing the gathering, the CM said he suspected deliberate efforts were being made to show him in bad light by creating unnecessary controversy over the issue.
“Some are trying to portray that the chief minister committed a theft on the chopper ride issue. On some occasions, the chief minister should make these type of trips. Normally, the public administration department pays for the travelling expenses of the chief minister and other ministers,” he said.
He also clarified that as soon as he learnt of the issue, he made arrangements to make the payment from the public administration account.
“I directed officials to make the payment for the helicopter trip from the public administration account as soon as I learnt of the issue. The officials make the payment usually and it is not necessary that the CM is aware of such details. In future, the ministers should also be aware of such details,” added Pinarayi.
Meanwhile, the CPI (M) Secretariat has decided that the relief fund should not be used to pay for the CM’s copter bill.
Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan has also asked for an explanation from additional chief secretary (revenue and disaster management) PH Kurien, over the issue.
“The officials are delegated several powers. But in this case, as a minister of the department, I have asked what were the circumstances under which decision to release funds from the disaster management fund was taken,” Chandrasekharan said.
Former Chief Secretary KM Abraham has come out in support of the CM and said the payment for CM’s helicopter ride of Rs 8 lakh is from the State Disaster Relief Fund and not Ockhi relief fund, reports Mathrubhumi.
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.
KM Abraham also said that the CM’s visit with the central team to Ockhi-hit areas was of crucial importance.
The CM’s office on Tuesday evening clarified that officials were not aware of the payment and the order was withdrawn, as soon as they learnt of the issue.