Row after Ockhi fund spent on Kerala CM's chopper ride; order sanctioning fund withdrawn

Row after Ockhi fund spent on Kerala CM's chopper ride; order sanctioning fund withdrawn

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was in the middle of a controversy on Tuesday in the wake of reports that expenses incurred on a helicopter journey he undertook on December 26, 2017, were being reimbursed from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). A January 6 order sanctioning Rs 8 lakh to the private helicopter company was withdrawn following the controversy.

The chief minister traveled from Thrissur, where he was attending a district conference of the ruling CPM, to Thiruvananthapuram to meet a central team assessing damage and relief work after Cyclone Ockhi. After meeting the officials and attending a Cabinet meeting, he returned to Thrissur in the helicopter, in the evening. The Chief Minister's Office said it was not aware of the order which was issued by additional chief secretary (Revenue and Disaster Management) P H Kurian.

The order directed the Thiruvananthapuram district collector to release the money. It said the helicopter company had submitted an invoice for Rs 13,09,800 but after negotiations, agreed to provide the service for Rs 8 lakh.

While the chief minister's itinerary included an official meeting in connection with Cyclone Ockhi, the opposition Congress and the BJP criticised the allocation from a fund dedicated to disaster relief.

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