It has been a year since the deluge in 2018 devastated most parts of Kerala and floods has once again hit the state in August this year too.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), a public sector undertaking under the Government of Kerala, has been criticised for failing to transfer the money it had collected for the 2018 floods to the Chief Ministerâ€™s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF). KSEB had collected Rs 132 crore from its employees as part of its salary challenge.
Manorama News has reported that KSEB collected Rs 102.61 crore through the salary challenge till the end of the 2018-2019 financial year. After March 2019, the board collected Rs 14.65 crore on an average every month for the next three months.
Post the floods in August 2018, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had made a call for government workers to contribute a monthâ€™s salary towards the reconstruction of the state. The government in an order in September 2018 had requested all government employees and pensioners to contribute to the CMDRF. Though this move had become controversial with the High Court and opposition questioning it, the government had maintained that this would be a voluntary exercise.
The employees of KSEB began participating in the salary challenge in September 2018. The money was paid in installments of ten months. Apart from the employees contribution, the Board made a contribution of Rs 36 crore. KSEB remitted Rs 49.5 crore to the CMDRF, including the amount donated by the Board in September 2018 itself. This financial year, KSEB remitted only Rs 10.23 crore to the CMDRF.
The money has not been diverted says KSEB
The KSEB has come out with an explanation that the money was not remitted to the CMDRF as it was collected in instalments. It added that on August 16, the Secretary, Administration was directed to remit the money to CMRDF. It is to be noted that Kerala saw a second round of floods this year and the direction to the KSEB officer has gone after the second wave of floods.
â€śThe decision was to make as a one-time payment. Not a single payment has been diverted,â€ť the KSEB said in their explanation.
â€śKSEB employees were the first to contribute to the CMDRF and had already remitted around Rs 50 crore to CMDRF, though the board had suffered huge loss during the floods as electric lines and sub stations were damaged. It was easier for the board to remit the amount in monthly instalments, but the idea was to make as a one-time remittance,â€ť a KSEB official told TNM.