Centre unlikely to accept UAE’s Rs. 700 Crore flood relief offer for Kerala
Sources said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.
New Delhi August 22: The government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood relief operations in Kerala, official sources said on Tuesday, which would rule out UAE’s generous aid offer of Rs. 700 crore for the state.
The government has taken the considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation, they said, as it feels it has the wherewithal to deal with the calamity. However, the final decision will be taken by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA said that it hasn’t got any offer or proposal yet.
India has not accepted any aid from a country or a multinational organization since 2007 and the policy is unlikely to change now, sources said. Even during the floods in Uttarakhand and Kashmir, the Centre had declined foreign aid offers, they said.
Syed Akbaruddin, who was the spokesperson for ministry of external affairs, had said after the 2013 Uttarakhand floods that India had declined Russia’s offer of help as India has the adequate ability to deal with any emergencies.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had on Tuesday offered USD 100 million (around Rs. 700 crore) as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram.
The government of Maldives has also decided to donate USD 50,000 (Rs. 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala. It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala. However, sources said India is unlikely to accept the assistance.
But the decision to accept or decline UAE’s offer would be a political one too. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has in a series of tweets expressed his gratitude to UAE for the offer of help.
“The state has a privileged relationship with the UAE. It is like a second country for the Kerala community, and we express our thanks and appreciation to the brotherly state of the United Arab Emirates for this support,” he said in one of his tweets.
The floods in Kerala, worst in a century, have claimed lives of 231 people in the last 10 days besides rendering over 14 lakh people homeless.
Kerala has sought a Rs. 2,600 crore special package from the Centre as it stares at a massive rebuilding exercise. The central government has so far released Rs.600 crore. The chief minister had earlier said the state had suffered damages of about Rs. 20,000 crore.
The ministry of home affairs had on Monday declared the floods a “severe calamity” and clarified that there is no provision to declare any calamity as national calamity under the Disaster Management Act.
Though rains have eased over the last two days, vast swathes of land remain under a seemingly endless sheet of water in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kollam districts.
Facing a daunting task, the state government also asked the Centre to enhance its borrowing limit and sought permission to impose a 10 per cent cess on GST to mobilize funds for rebuilding Kerala.