Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan came down heavily on officials in the state government who were involved in the alleged Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) scam. Earlier, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) had detected widespread misappropriation of the Kerala CMDRF funds allegedly by an organised network of government officials, doctors and agents after submitting forged medical certificates and other documents.
“Some think that they can take advantage of the relief activities. A majority (of officials) are dedicated to their work. But some others are aiming at some gains. They think that their fraud will not be found out. But at this time, it is not difficult to keep surveillance and take action if any irregularities are found. Everyone should remember this. The government has already started an inquiry on those people (suspects). Government is not bound to bear the burden of people who tarnish the image of the state,” Chief Minister Pinarayi said, adding that corrupt officials will be removed from the service.
On February 23, VACB director Manoj Abraham told the media that there were widespread raids related to the CMDRF across the state and they found irregularities in many places. The Chief Minister's Office as well as the VACB had found that some of the identities of beneficiaries who received the fund as relief were fake. When the statements of applicants were recorded, the details of those involved would be clearer, he said.
Though it was earlier considered a localised crime limited to certain districts only, it was found during the probe that the fraud was conducted in almost all districts of the state, Manoj Abraham said. Thus, the VACB conducted surprise checks in suspected premises across the state, he said, adding that most complaints were received in Kollam district. "We assume that it was an organised fraud. A dedicated team was behind this. During the verification, it was found that the mobile number of one agent was given in several applications in a particular district," Manoj Abraham said.