Thiruvananthapuram: The state government and Chief Electoral Officer E.K. Majhi are on a collision course over his refusal to permit drinking water supply to areas hit by water shortage and restrictions on disbursal of financial assistance, including Karunya benevolent fund.
A special cabinet meeting was held on Monday in the wake of the CEO decision to stop drinking water supply in Kollam district. Last week, the government had directed collectors to ensure drinking water supply in affected areas and funds were also sanctioned for this purpose.
At the cabinet briefing, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, “water distribution is being denied citing technical reasons. There is a provision for distribution of drinking water under the model code of conduct. But this is allowed only in areas declared by the government as drought-affected.
“The state has not witnessed widespread damage to crops for making such a declaration. However, the heat wave condition is worse compared to previous years resulting in acute water shortage,” the chief minister said . He said there was no point in holding on to technicalities for denying water to people. The Cabinet also decided to file a complaint against CEO if the issue is not solved amicably.
Chief secretary P.K. Mohanty had apprised the EC of the ground situation and even written a letter explaining the seriousness of the matter. “If we do not get the permission to supply drinking water by tomorrow, the government will explore legal recourse to redress the problem,” the chief minister said and added that the government would ensure that the model code of conduct was not violated.
The government would also bring three other important issues before the CEO. Firstly, the government has sought permission to open closed cashew factories to help jobless workers. The decision to reopen Cashew Development Corporation factories was taken long before elections were announced.
Secondly, the government sought permission to issue advertisement to announce the renewal of Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. “This scheme has been in vogue for the past seven years and the advertisement is issued every year on April 1 to provide information to the public,” the chief minister said.
Thirdly, it has asked the CEO to allow the disbursal of financial assistance under Karunya Benevolent Fund to patients who are undergoing treatment. Since additional funds are needed for further treatment on a weekly and monthly basis, any delay in disbursement of money could cause serious problems to patients.
The government also requested the CEO to allow disbursal of financial aid from the chief minster’s relief fund to cases which were permitted prior to the announcement of polls and for which funds were allotted....