Distress Money for Townships; Kerala Govt’s novel way of relief to flood victims

With about Rs 2,000 crore in the kitty for flood affected people in Kerala, the Left government seems to have bigger thoughts of building townships rather than providing more financial relief to the flood hit individuals and families.

 The Left government is alleged to be going secretly with the plan of building huge townships with the large fund accumulated in the Chief Ministers Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).

The secrecy of the government gains strength with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calling a meeting to discuss infrastructure projects that can be developed by using CMDRF. Highly placed sources said that the ministers, especially the Revenue Minister under whom the utilisation of various disaster funds comes, were not invited for the meeting. But only officials were asked to attend the meeting scheduled for Tuesday (May 28). However, the meeting is said to have been postponed after pressure mounted on the Chief Minister’s office.

However, sources say that the meeting has only been postponed and not cancelled. They allege that the government would surely in a way or another make use of the money in diversifying the funds in the CMDRF for building purposes. They allege that some private players have come into play in devising such township projects. Already the government had faced criticism over engaging KPMG as a consultant in rebuild Kerala initiative.

They doubt about the real intention behind the meeting that was convened without any of the cabinet members. If the real intention was to bring solace to the flood hit region and the people, then why it was kept a secret from other cabinet members.

The government’s move to build townships for the flood affected people is unlikely to have acceptance as no one will physically move out from where he is staying. The government has many instances in front of them when the people had refused to move out of their present dwelling place. As part of the Zero landless project, many landless people were given land in different parts of the state but most of them were not willing to shift from where they were staying. When such an experience is there in front of the Government, many think that the idea of township for flood hit people was foolish. Moreover, they allege that there might be some hidden agenda behind the move. If there was no secrecy and everything was transparent, why then the other ministers, especially the revenue minister who handles disaster funds, was not invited for the meeting, they asked.

If one has to ask a flood hit person living in Alappuzha, Kottayam or Pathanamthitta, he would never think of physically moving out. Moreover, he would never expect the government to think of a township but would expect projects and programmes for uplifting their livelihood. They would also think of more financial assistance for building up their lost lives.

The Government’s website on CMDRF clearly states that the fund is an emergency assistance to individual and families suffering from natural disasters, death due to accident and treatment. But where is the construction and township mentioned, they ask.


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