Thiruvananthapuram: Congress MLA P T Thomas said the state government was exhibiting dictatorial tendencies after the floods. “This is especially evident in the manner in which the government has asked its employees to part with their one month's salary. There is a threatening tone in the request,” Thomas said while interacting with the media here on Wednesday.
The order laying down the guidelines for the transfer of salaries to the chief minister's disaster relief fund was issued on September 11. Those not willing to contribute will have to sign a one-line declaration, and provide their name and address. Thomas said finance minister T M Thomas Isaac, during a meeting with representatives of government employees' unions, had told them there would be political pressure on those who sign the declaration showing their unwillingness. “Such an attitude will not work in the government's efforts to create a new Kerala,” he said.
Thomas said there were other avenues that the state could have looked for to mop up funds. “The lease rent of many plantations has just not only been revised but not collected either. Then there are other arrears, which could run into tens of crores, that could be mobilised if the government had the will,” he said.
New Kerala, a hollow slogan
Thomas said he suspected the sincerity of the LDF government to rebuild Kerala. “If the chief minister was so keen on having an open debate on the issue in the Assembly, he should have allowed Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian and Ranni MLA Raju Abraham to speak. Instead, he allowed four other Left MLAs who made fun of environment concerns to speak for the LDF,” Thomas said. “This clearly showed that the CPM's priorities lay elsewhere,” he added.
The Thrikkakkara MLA also called for a judicial inquiry into the factors that caused the state's worst-ever floods. “This is a time when a judicial inquiry is ordered even in cases where there is not a single casualty. This is a crisis of the highest order. Over 480 people have died, many are missing, and agriculture and livelihoods have been lost. Shouldn't we know what led to such a momentous event,” Thomas asked.
He dared the Pinarayi Vijayan government to share two documents with the public. One, the action plan the state had used to tackle the floods. Two, the minutes of the full board meeting of KSEB held on July 23. Further, he said there were many questions that were begging for answers.
Why was the crucial post of KSEB's civil director left vacant during the floods? Why was flood forecasting not done in Kerala? Did the chief minister chair a meeting of the Disaster Management Authority, as he should have? If so, what were the decisions taken?
What were the precautions taken before Mullaperiyar and Parambikulam dams, in the control of Tamil Nadu, discharged water towards the Kerala side? Was the maintenance of dams in the state carried out before June 1, the start of monsoon, as is mandatory? Did the Central Water Commission put out any warnings? If so, what were the steps taken?
“On January 11 this year, the Supreme Court had said the state should protect the lives and property of the people in the context of the Mullaperiyar issue,” Thomas said. What were the steps taken on the basis of the Supreme Court directions? On September 6, the state government submitted before the apex court that there was no need for an international expert to examine the Mullaperiyar dam. “Doesn't this show that the government has still not taken the floods seriously,” Thomas asked.
The Centre had time and again asked the state to train the police force in search, rescue and medical aid. “Had the force been trained in these three areas, wouldn't it have been easy to despatch them to troubled areas even before help came in the form of the military and the fisherfolk,” he asked.