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Vijayan, Kerala FM Say Nothing in Disaster Management Policy Stops Centre From Accepting UAE Aid

While the battered state has asked for a Rs 2,600 crore special package from the Centre for its Rs 20,000 crore losses, the latter has so far extended Rs 600 crore in help.

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Updated:August 23, 2018, 5:26 PM IST
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Vijayan, Kerala FM Say Nothing in Disaster Management Policy Stops Centre From Accepting UAE Aid
File photo of rescuers evacuating people from a flood-hit locality in Thiruvananthapuram. (Image: PTI)
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New Delhi: As reports of the Centre possibly rejecting UAE’s generous Rs 700 crore aid for Kerala continues to do the rounds, the flood-ravaged state has not taken too kindly to the development, with some of the state’s leaders asking who will pay for the massive rebuilding exercise.

The Union government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood relief operations in Kerala, official sources said on Tuesday. Thailand ambassador to India, Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi took to Twitter to confirm the Centre’s decision: “Informally informed with regret that GOI is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief. Our hearts are with you the people of Bharat.”

While the battered state has asked for a Rs 2,600 crore special package from the Centre for its Rs 20,000 crore losses, the latter has so far extended Rs 600 crore in help.

On Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac and former CM Oommen Chandy, all raised questions as to how the state will recover from the massive damages if the Centre keeps rejecting foreign aid.

CM Vijayan has made it clear that treating UAE as “any other country” is not justified and that the Middle East nation is like a “second country” for the people of Kerala.

In a press conference, Vijayan said the national policy on disaster management, 2016, has a clause that says during such a disaster if any country voluntarily offers help, it can be accepted. He said he would approach the Prime Minister and have a discussion on the issue.

Isaac also tweeted that in the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), the Chapter 9 on international cooperation accepts that in time of severe calamity, voluntary aid given by a foreign government can be accepted.

"Still if union government chooses to adopt a negative stance towards offer made by UAE gov they should compensate Kerala (sic)," he tweeted.

The NDMP says that the government of India does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster. However, if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer.

India daily rainfall - August 2018

The Centre, however, in the case has taken the considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation, sources 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 organisation 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.

Contrary to the Centre’s claim of not receiving any offer from UAE, Vijayan has claimed in a series of tweets that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, had called up PM Narendra Modi to make the offer of assistance. Vijayan also expressed his gratitude for the generous offer by UAE.

The ‘CMO Kerala’ Twitter handle wrote on Tuesday, “The state has a privileged relationship with the UAE, where it is a second country to the Kerala community, and we express our thanks and appreciation to the brotherly state of the United Arab Emirates for this support.”

Opposition leader Oommen Chandy has also issued a similar statement that read, “This decision is quite disappointing to the people of Kerala. Rules should be as such eradicate the sufferings of the people. If there exist any obstacles against the acceptance of foreign financial aid, kindly look in to the matter seriously and bring suitable modifications.”

Chandy further calls for the tragedy to be declared a ‘National Disaster’.

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 mobilise funds for rebuilding Kerala.

Several state governments have come forward with monetary aid to the state that has seen 370 deaths in the monsoon season and over 7 lakh people in relief camps.

K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana government has extended an aid of Rs 25 crore while Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and several other state governments, too, have lent a helping hand.
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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