Pinarayi Vijayan: Kerala CM tapped disaster fund for private chopper ride | India News
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayanreportedly spent Rs 8 lakh from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to take a private helicopter for a return trip between Thrissur, where he was attending a CPM conference, and Thiruvananthapuramlast month.
As the issue triggered a controversy, the chief minister’s office hurriedly cancelled on Tuesday the original order and clarified the general administration department would foot the bill.
On December 26, Vijayan, attending the CPM Thrissur district conference at Thriprayar, boarded a helicopter from a private helipad in Nattika for a flight to Thiruvananthapuram to take part in a cabinet meeting and meet the central team in town to assess damage caused by cyclone Ockhi cyclone. He then took the same chopper for the trip back to Thrissur.
According to a government order dated January 6, 2018, state police chief Loknath Behera hired the helicopter from Chipsan Aviation Private Limited.
“The helicopter (AW 109E twin engine) was hired for the to and fro journey of the chief minister from Nattika Cotton Mill helipad in Thrissur district to Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the visit of inter-ministerial central team for assessment of the prevailing Ockhi cyclone situation,” the DGP’s letter said.
Though the aviation company had quoted an amount of Rs 13,09,800 initially, it got reduced to Rs 8 lakh after negotiations, the letter added. Following the DGP’s request for payment to the company, the government accorded sanction to the Thiruvananthapuram district collector to release the amount from the SDRF account.
The order was withdrawn after the opposition UDF criticised the fund misuse. A CMO official said the CM was in the dark about the order. “The order will be cancelled. General Administration Department will bear the expense incurred for the chopper trip”, he said.