THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major damage control measure, Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has decided to handover Rs 132 crore collected from staff through salary challenge, to the government on Tuesday.
Power minister M.M. Mani will handover a cheque of Rs 132 crore to the Chief Minister at 3 pm. The decision comes in the wake of widespread criticism against KSEB for delaying the transfer of money to Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) and diverting the money for other purposes.
The KSEB had failed to deposit Rs 132 crore collected from staff for 2018 flood relief, with the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
Of the salary challenge collection KSEB had deposited only Rs 10.23 cr with CMDRF.
Earlier, the KSEB had given Rs 50 crore to CMDRF. Of this Rs 35 cr was the share of the board, Rs 1 cr of Power Finance Corpora-tion and Rs 14 cr from staff and pensioners By March 31, 2019 the KSEB had collected Rs 102.61 crore through salary challenge.
However, 95 per cent of the amount was yet to be transferred to the CMDRF which has triggered a major controversy.
The salary challenge campaign began in September 2018 with each staff contributing three days salary every month. In this manner, the staff were to contribute 30 days salary or a month's salary over a period of 10 months.
KSEB chairman N S Pillai, however, said it was wrong to say that the money collected for CMDRF was diverted. “We have already decided to deposit the money with CMDRF. There is a file order. We could have borrowed Rs 130 crore and given to CMDRF right in the beginning. If you go by our financial position, KSEB is an organisation which has an overdraft short term credit facility of Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 crore from 15 banks. Compared to any other institution KSEB can get credit of Rs 130 cr without any sanction or order. We have a tie-up with top banks,” he said.
The KSEB chairman said there was a clear head of account with all details of the contributions received from staff as part of salary challenge.
“Not a single penny can be diverted from CMDRF. If it is done it will be a fraud. Though we collected Rs 102 crore by March, we wanted to contribute a total figure of Rs 130 and then transfer the funds,” he said.
He said a high level meeting of KSEB staff union leaders and officials had been convened on Monday to take a decision on transferring the funds to CMDRF.
It is learnt that the delay in depositing the funds collected from KSEB staff through salary challenge with the CMDRF was with the knowledge of the chief minister. The KSEB officials had stated that the chief minister was apprised of the delay.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that it was a grave lapse on the part of KSEB and the state government. “The issue has exposed the failure of the official machinery,” Mr Chennithala said....