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Kerala Floods: Centre Unlikely To Accept UAE's Rs 700 Crore Donation, Death Toll Rises To 231

They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.

Kerala Floods: Centre Unlikely To Accept UAE's Rs 700 Crore Donation, Death Toll Rises To 231
outlookindia.com
2018-08-21T22:37:08+0530

The government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood relief operations in Kerala, official sources said, even as the state on Tuesday  sought a Rs 2,600 crore special package from the Centre.

They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered $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.

READ ALSO | Kerala Floods: Venomous Snakes Greet Residents Returning Home

Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE out of which 80% are from Kerala.

The government of Maldives has also decided to donate $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.

The floods in Kerala, worst in a century, have claimed lives of 231 people besides rendering over 14 lakh people homeless.

Earlier in the day, Kerala sought a Rs 2,600 crore special package from the Centre even as the state struggled to find its feet after the devastating deluge.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting of the state cabinet, which decided to seek the special package under the centrally-sponsored schemes, including the flagship rural
employment programme MNREGS.

As the cabinet took stock of the havoc caused by the unprecedented floods in a century, the Centre released Rs 600 crore to Kerala and decided to waive customs duty and GST on
the relief materials being imported for the affected people.

The central assistance of Rs 500 crore as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rs 100 crore by Union home minister Rajnath Singh had been released on Tuesday, an official
spokesperson said in New Delhi.

An all party meeting extended unstinted support for the government's relief and rehabilitation measurers with leaders cutting across party lines assuring that they would all work together to rebuild the state.

The day also saw the rail and road networks, badly hit by the floods, being restored in most places, while flight operations from the Cochin International Airport are expected to resume from August 26.

The airport, among the busiest in the country, had been rendered non-functional since August 14 due to flooding and torrential rains.

Civil aircraft services are being operated from Naval airport in Kochi since yesterday as an interim measure. The Indian Railways said it has repaired all damaged
tracks and restored normal traffic from on Tuesday.

Union tourism minister KJ Alphons flagged the need for ready-to-eat cooked food, doctors and nurses, saying people are now getting back to whatever is left of their homes with
the waters receding.

He also appealed to skilled workers like plumbers, electricians and carpenters to come to make homes livable and help the state regain normalcy.

Reflecting the enormity of the situation, there will be no 'Onam' and 'Bakrid' celebrations in many parts of Kerala. The government and other entities have cancelled events scheduled for August 25 to celebrate Onam that brings together people of all religious faiths, castes and creed in celebration of a good harvest.

The money collected for the celebrations will now be spent on flood relief. The Muslim festival of Bakrid tomorrow will also be low key. 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% cess on GST to mobilise funds for rebuilding Kerala, where 13 of its 14 districts were ravaged by monsoon rains since the first week of this month.

Under the present arrangement, Kerala can obtain 3% of its gross state domestic product (GSDP) as loans and wants it to be raised to 4.5% so the state can mobilise an additional Rs 10,500 crore from the open market.

"A comprehensive package for rehabilitation of the flood victims and to rebuild Kerala will be submitted to centre,"

Vijayan told a press conference. It was also decided to introduce a special lottery to
mobilise funds for the state. A special session of the state assembly has been
convened on August 30 to discuss the situation arising from the calamitous floods.

The chief minister had earlier said the state had suffered damages of about Rs 20,000 crore.
As the massive humanitarian tragedy unfolded in the picturesque state, relief poured in.
Governments of other states, corporate entities and individuals, including small children, have loosened their purse strings.

The state-level bankers committee has decided to declare a moratorium on repayment of agricultural loan for a year. Though most of those marooned have been evacuated, the
state government and defence forces said rescue efforts will continue till the last person was brought to safety. 

The government is also preparing a comprehensive health action programme to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases. Meanwhile, local MLA Saji Cherian said all the stranded
persons in chengannur, one among the worst affected nearby areas have been rescued.

(Agencies)

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