In a scam that has been unearthed in Kerala, it has been found that money for the 2018 flood relief had been diverted into the account of a local CPM leader. As per reports, Ernakulam district collector S Suhas has stated that it was not due to technical errors but a deliberate attempt to siphon off funds meant for flood relief.
It was found that over 10 lakh rupees from the flood relief fund were transferred to the bank account of local CPM leader MA Anwar. Anwar belongs to the Thikkakkara local committee of CPM.
As per the internal inquiry findings, it was noticed that the names of 325 beneficiaries were duplicated for the flood relief money at the collectorate office in March 2019. The additional funds that came to the treasury following the addition of fake names, was allegedly transferred to the account of CPM leader MA Anwar held in the Ayyanad Service Cooperative Bank.
Secretary of the Ayyanad bank AN Rajamma had noticed that over 10.54 lakhs were transferred to Anwar’s account in the same bank in five instalments.
The district collector has now suspended a clerk in the flood relief section named Vishnuprasad after the fraud was unearthed. The collector has stated that they have recredited the 10.54 lakhs from Anwar’s account. He added that as per their information, no similar deals were done elsewhere.
As per the latest report in Matrubhoomi, it has been revealed that the clerk Vishnuprasad and his friend had bought a poultry farm in Pollachi. Vishnuprasad, his friend Mahesh and the CPM leader MA Anwar had allegedly used to the money to settle the dues of the farm. While Vishnuprasad has been arrested, Mahesh and Anwar are still absconding.
Vishnuprasad was arrested by the police on Monday, March 2, and his laptop and hard disk were seized. He was then presented at the Muvattupuzha Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Court, where he was remanded to custody till March 17.
The report submitted by the district crime branch names Vishnuprasad’s associates B Mahesh and AM Anwar as co-accused in the scam.
It is notable here that this is not the first time that flood relief fund misappropriations have been reported in the state. In 2019, Kerala Lokayukta had admitted the complaints against the Vijayan government regarding the alleged misuse of Kerala flood relief funds.
In June 2019, the Kerala government had signed a loan agreement with the World Bank worth over 250 million dollars to reconstruct the state’s infrastructure post the 2018 flood. However, in November that year, state finance minister Thomas Issac had admitted that the money has been used for ‘routine’ expenses like salaries and pension.