KSEB finally hands over flood relief money to govt

Deluge 2018's salary challenge: KSEB yet to give crores of money to CM's relief fund

Thiruvananthapuram: After it emerged that the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) was holding on to Rs 132.46 crore collected from its employees for contribution to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) with regard to last year's floods, the power utility belatedly handed over this amount today afternoon.

As the matter came to light and a row erupted, Mani had promised to hand over the collected money to the Chief Minister before 3 pm on Tuesday.

The board had levied Rs 102.61 crore from its staff till March 31, 2019, as part of the 'salary challenge' campaign in which the government employees donated a month's salary in instalments. The Board also got an average of Rs 14.65 crore per month for the next three months. Of this, only Rs 10.23 crore was handed over to the disaster relief fund till June 30.

This was admitted by KSEB Chairman N S Pillai on Monday. He too had said that the money would soon be handed over to the CMDRF.

"We have remitted only Rs 10 crore and it must not be forgotten that KSEB is always in the red as we have to get huge outstanding dues from various state-run organisations. We later felt that instead of giving an amount every month, we should hand over the money as a lump sum amount in one go," Pillai had reasoned over the delay in parting with the money mobilised.

The salary challenge was announced by the Chief Minister himself soon after the state was hit by the major floods last August.
All the state government employees were asked to contribute three days' salary every month for 10 months. The collection started from September 2018 and ended in June 2019.

Senior Congress legislator and former State Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had termed KSEB's conduct as nothing but corruption as it was a clear case of violation of the state's financial norms.

"Now all what we need to hear is, will action be taken against this gross violation. We demand that a white paper on CMDRF be brought out by the government. If this is the case with KSEB, one thinks that there can be several similar cases, and hence a white paper is a must," Radhakrishnan had commented.

The Board had contributed its share of Rs 36.02 crore to the relief fund earlier. The Kerala government has to pay KSEB an outstanding amount of Rs 541.79 crore including a Rs 331.67 crore electricity bill of the Kerala Water Authority. The KSEB is expected to face a Rs 200 crore decit by October for purchasing electricity.

The two natural calamities had severely affected the board's revenues. The outstanding dues of government-run institutions also worsened the situation. Sources reveal that the fund transfer was delayed with the knowledge of the government given the dire circumstances.

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