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Pinarayi Vijayan tightens his iron grip on the CPI-M

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s initiatives have brought him great publicity—like a move to implement reservation norms in state-run temples to allow Dalits to work as priests. File

The total amount spent on the Central team adds up to Rs 18.5 lakh when the chief minister's helicopter expenses are also added. We use a vehicle for travelling for a goal. In urgent situations, when other means of travelling are not available, sometimes special aircraft would be required. It is the job of the officials to look into such issues.

Pinarayi said meeting the central team that went to Kerala to assess the Ochki situation was important.

There is an attempt to portray the incident as a theft by the CM, he said.

A Government order of 2016 says the "financial powers of the State Executive Committee for undertaking disaster preparedness, response and mitigation as envisaged vide the Disaster Management Act, 2005 is hereby delegated to Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue & Disaster Management within the financial limits (presently Rs 1 crore) of administrative department. for matters related to plan/non-plan funds of KSDMA, SEOC, State Disaster Response Fund, State Disaster Mitigation Fund and other Government of India grants and project funds received by Disaster Management Authority".

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 order was cancelled on the ground that such bills can be met using the fund from the public account, " he said. He also alleged that the CPI (M) led LDF government physically annihilated those who raise voices against it. The party would examine the issue and take appropriate decision, " he said. The order was issued without the knowledge of the CM's office, it said.

The order for payment of Rs 8 lakh from the state disaster relief fund (SDRF) toward the use of the private helicopter by Vijayan to travel from a party meeting venue in Thrissur to the state capital and back on 26 December kicked off a row with Congress and BJP slamming the government for "diverting" the relief fund. "I don't want to comment on other things".

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".