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A year over, flood relief operators await lakhs
Kerala

A year over, flood relief operators await lakhs

Ajayan

Nothing seems to be going right with the post-flood relief operations in Kerala. From scanty Central funds to very little trickling even after the Chief Minister went on Gulf tour to raise funds comes the controversy of the Kerala State Electricity Board holding back for nearly 10 months Rs 130 crore collected by way of salary challenge from staff towards relief fund.

When the Government has been struggling to ward off allegations regarding use of funds for the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, a large section of workers who were engaged in relief operations like rebuilding roads to areas isolated after landslides, are yet to get huge amounts they spent.

In Idukki where landslides were galore during the devastating August 2018 flood, people were asked by the authorities to use their vehicles and equipment for rescue operations.

While initially people volunteered to involve in the rescue operations, there was the need for excavators and lorries to be pressed into service.

Documents available with Pennews showed that umpteen letters were sent by top officials for clearing the dues. But it has been a year and people are yet to receive the amounts.

A letter sent by the engineer of the PWD in Painavu in Idukki to clear the bills for Rs 5.71 lakh is yet to be cleared.

Another by the Executive Engineer of the PWD highways division in Muvattupuzha for payment of Rs 4.18 lakh, like the earlier one, is also pending payment.

Stanley, one of those waiting for his dues, told Pennews that he had supplied his excavators and lorries for the relief work after the authorities, including the Tahasildar and village officer, requested him. He had bought them on loan and last month as part of paying his instalment he had to pawn ornaments. He said the fate of several others like him were the same.

He says the authorities promise to push the case and ensure that money is got at the earliest, but a year has passed and the State witnessed another flood.