India Takes “Domestic Efforts” Route As Nations Line Up To Help Kerala

New Delhi: 

India will not take help from foreign governments that have pledged financial assistance to flood-hit Kerala, the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday. A number of countries including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Maldives and Thailand have announced they want to help Kerala recover from the devastating floods.

While declining to accept the assistance, India is conveying its sincere appreciation to the foreign nations for their offers, the statement said.

“In line with existing policy, the government of India is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” the foreign ministry said in the statement. “Contributions to PM relief fund and CM relief fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would be welcome,” it said.

The UAE has offered Rs 700 crore, Qatar has pledged Rs 35 crore and Maldives has announced a donation of Rs 35 lakh. Three million Indians live and work in the UAE, out of which 80 per cent are from Kerala, according to official data.

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Kerala floods: New Delhi is now telling foreign governments that it was carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the damage caused by the floods

The Kerala government is understood to be unhappy over the centre’s decision not to accept donations from foreign governments for flood relief operations in the southern state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the state government would approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the hurdles in receiving the aid being offered by the UAE.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Thailand’s ambassador to India Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi said the centre has informed his country that it will not accept overseas donations. “Informally informed with regret that GOI is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief. Our hearts are with you the people of Bharat,” the Thai envoy tweeted.

New Delhi is now telling foreign governments that it was carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the damage caused by the floods in Kerala and is capable of meeting the requirements of the southern state on its own.

The floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, have killed over 237 since August 8.

Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac had questioned the centre’s ability to foot the bill for the massive reconstruction the battered state needs. Pointing out that the centre gave only Rs 600 crore when Kerala asked for Rs 2,000 crore, he said, “Given that, I don’t know why they should deny some government or individual (who can help)”.

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The floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, have killed over 237 since August 8.

Regarding the offer from UAE, which the centre says is yet to reach, Mr Issac said the state had a long relationship with the Arab nation. “In fact, a majority of the population (in UAE) would be Malayalis,” he said.

The minister cited the National Disaster Management Plan’s Chapter 9 on taking foreign aid for disaster relief work, pointing out that the centre can still accept assistance offered by a foreign government.

“As a matter of policy, 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… In consultation with the concerned State Government, the MHA (Home Ministry) will assess the response requirements that the foreign teams can provide,” says the entry in Chapter 9 titled “International Cooperation” in the National Disaster Management Plan published in May 2016.

(Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.)

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