Telangana poll body stops TRS’ cash relief plan for Hyderabad flood victims
The Telangana state election commission on Wednesday stalled the distribution of ₹10,000 in cash to the families affected by last month’s heavy rains and floods in Hyderabad, in view of the model code of conduct coming into force for the elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to be held on December 1.
The distribution of cash to the flood victims has triggered a controversy with the opposition parties – Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party alleging that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi was “bribing” the voters of Hyderabad on the pretext of flood relief.
SEC secretary M Ashok Kumar wrote to state principal secretary (municipal administration and urban development) stating that since the model code of conduct had come into force for the GHMC elections with immediate effect, the authorities must stop distribution of cash through Mee Seva centres (government-authorised online service centres).
The SEC official said the flood relief distribution could be done after the model code of conduct comes to an end.
The SEC order came hours after a 70-year old woman died of suffocation while she was standing in a queue before Mee Seva centre at Neknampura under Golkonda police station limits.
Early this month, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao ordered distribution of ₹10,000 in cash to each of the families affected by recent heavy rains and floods in Hyderabad. The chief minister released ₹550 crore towards this cash distribution scheme and offered to release more based on the requirement.
Initially, the cash distribution was done by local TRS leaders who went door to door to pay the money. But the government was forced to stop it following complaints of largescale corruption in cash distribution. There were allegations that the TRS leaders made big money by knocking away part of the cash to be distributed among the flood victims.
Later, the government asked the people to register names online at Mee Seva Centres so that the cash could be transferred directly into the accounts of eligible individuals. But this led to further chaos, as thousands of people thronged the Mee Seva centres to submit their claims.
Serpentine queues were witnessed at several places, as beneficiaries threw to wind the social distancing norms. There were near stampede situations at some places as the police had tough time in controlling the crowds.
The registration process continued till the SEC issued orders asking the authorities to stop the process in view of the model code of conduct.
Pradesh Congress Committee working president and Malkajgiri parliamentarian A Revanth Reddy alleged that the decision of the TRS government to distribute cash to the people to garner their votes in the GHMC elections has led to the chaos.
“The TRS leaders were only interested in distributing money among the voters, rather than streamlining the flood relief works. The authorities have failed to anticipate the crowds at the Mee Seva centres,” Reddy said.