Kerala mulls action as poll officer stops water supply

Thiruvananthapuram, March 21 (IANS) The Kerala government is mulling legal action against the chief electoral officer if the poll panel does not allow the state government to resume supply of drinking water to places reeling under water shortage.

Addressing reporters after a special cabinet meeting on Monday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the election officials asked the government to stop providing drinking water to residents in Kollam, which was facing scarcity.

“The water that we supplied to places in Kollam was already sanctioned much before the code of conduct came into force. We have written to them to give us sanction, and in case they don’t do it, at tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) cabinet meeting, we will decide to take legal steps,” he said.

Chandy said the government also told election officials that they needed permission to carry on with the activities of cashew factories for which they sanctioned the funds much earlier.

“Another issue we will bring before them is that there is a health insurance scheme in place for people… on April 1 every year, all those people’s policies have to be renewed, we want approval for that.”

“In the budget speech, I had announced a scheme for supply of free rice to all people in the Below Poverty Line category, we are seeking approval for that too,” said Chandy.

The chief minister said there was no harm in having a model code of conduct in place before the polls, but it should not put people in difficulty.

“In 2011, elections were held in April but the model code of conduct was in place till the votes were counted on May 13.

“This time, the polls would be held on May 16. In effect, it’s the same as everything comes to a standstill from the date of announcement and is only lifted after results are announced,” said Chandy.

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