Kerala Opposition walks out over tsunami fund issue

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 17 (UNI) The Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front today staged a walk-out in the Kerala Assembly in protest against Speaker K Radhakrishnan refusing leave for an adjournment motion on the ''irregularities'' in utilisation of Central funds sanctioned for tsunami rehabilitation works.

Mr K C Venugopal (Cong), who gave notice for the adjournment motion, said that the funds have been diverted and demanded a discussion on the issue. The Left Democratic Front Government had no new tsunami project as all the projects were that of the previous UDF Government, he claimed.

Alleging that the Government had not done anything during the last one-and-a-half years, he demanded a white paper on this.

Raising the issue of tsunami funds for schools, he said eligible students were not included in the list of scholarships.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy said the Government had not properly utilised Central assistance of Rs 1,441 crore for tsunami rehabilitation. The Government had not submitted projects to the Centre in time and its claim that Rs 68 crore had been got for tsunami rehabilitation only showed this. ''The Revenue Minister has said that only 50 per cent of the project cost submitted would be released by the Centre. This shows that the Government has only submitted projects worth Rs 136 crore,'' he said, asking the Government to look at the fund utilisation by neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

The Centre had clearly stated that further funds would be given only after the allotted funds were utilised, he alleged that the State Government had not done anything so far.

Mr Chandy also challenged the Government to come out with evidence against the previous UDF government of having diverted the tsunami funds.

Rejecting the Opposition charges, Revenue Minister K P Rajendran said there were no irregularities in utilisation of funds as the Government had taken great pains to ensure that only deserving people benefitted from the projects.

Stating that Rs 68 crore had been got as tsunami assistance till now, he said there was a need for united effort in getting more funds from the Centre.

UNI

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