There have been fake messages regarding flood relief funds and materials, and social media posts trying to create a divide between the northern and southern parts of Kerala.

Stop negative campaign about flood relief Kerala CM others appealImage courtesy: Mayor VK Prasanth's Facebook page
news Kerala Floods Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 14:50

It has been four days of heavy rains and floods across the central and northern parts of Kerala and misleading messages and negative campaigning regarding rescue and relief operations are already doing the rounds.

Kerala Minister Thomas Isaac wrote about the social media posts which have been discouraging people from contributing to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund or donating relief materials for the affected districts.

“Such posts say that the money contributed is misused for the chief minister’s foreign trips and other extravagance. There is separate money in the budget for the CM’s foreign travel and for buying vehicles. There is no need to mix the two. Whether it is extravagance or not should be discussed separately,” Thomas Isaac wrote on his Facebook page.

The CM’s relief fund gets money from the state budget and from the contributions made by people. It is the people’s contribution – Rs 4,106 crore up to July 20, 2019 – that helped a lot during the floods last year, Isaac points out. Separate accounts have been opened in the name of the finance minister in selected banks to receive the CMDRF contributions. There is an account of every rupee spent from the CMDRF and it would be subjected to the auditing by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, he wrote. 

In a press meet on Sunday morning, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also addressed the spreading of false news and advised people to not fall for it. He also addressed the talk regarding the Thiruvananthapuram Collector’s video post about contributing to relief materials in other districts. In his video, Thiruvananthapuram Collector K Gopalakrishnan said that he has spoken to collectors of affected districts and it was understood that they could manage the relief material from local sources at the moment. However, the collector was criticised for misleading people and then going on leave. The CM said that the collector’s message was only about a temporary situation, which some people appear to have misunderstood as long term.

Negative campaigns about north-south divide

There have also been posts suggesting a divide between the northern and southern parts of Kerala. Some wrote that since the northern parts of the state are affected, people from the southern parts are not interested in contributing relief materials. 

Actor Parvathy Thiruvothu put out a post saying that a fake page has been started in her name and it has been used to share information, which has led to a lot of negativity, friction and differences among people at this time of distress. 

“Please be informed that this is a fake profile and it’s unfortunate to watch such things being done in the name of regionalism and divide of all kinds when everyone is trying to stand together to survive this crisis our state is in. Let’s not spend our energies and time in negativity and hatred but channelise it for the greater good. Let’s please not share or spread any wrong or misleading information to our contacts,” she wrote.

In an urgent need to quell the negative campaigning in a state that had braved the floods together only a year ago, more people’s representatives are coming out with videos to clear the air. Thiruvananthapuram Mayor VK Prasanth, in a video, said that there is a negative campaign going around about relief material not reaching the affected places properly and getting piled up somewhere. “This is not true. We have done it properly last year. Only old clothes and food that can go stale would be discarded. Every other item would reach the right place in the Corporation’s vehicles. A health inspector would be accompanying the load, which would then be handed over to the respective district collector,” he said.

District wise needs of relief material can be found here

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