Row erupts over foreign aid for India's flood-hit Kerala

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/8/23 11:54:07

A row has erupted between the Indian government and the government of flood-hit southernmost state of Kerala over receiving the financial aid committed by foreign countries.

While the central government "welcomed" contributions from non-resident Indians, people of Indian origin and international entities such as foundations and only "appreciated" offers from several countries, the state government has decided to hold parleys with the former to help transfer the 7 billion Indian Rupees (around 100 million US dollars) aid committed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.

A statement released by the country's Ministry of External Affairs said late Wednesday night, "The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries, including from foreign governments, to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods."

The statement added: "In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts. Contributions to the prime minister's Relief Fund and the chief minister's Relief Fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however, be welcome."

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac described the Union government's move to say no to foreign assistance as "a dog in the manger policy."

Issac tweeted on Wednesday night, "We asked Union government for financial support of 22 billion Indian Rupees, they grant us a precious 6 billion Indian Rupees. We make no request to any foreign government but UAE government voluntarily offer 7 billion Indian Rupees. No, says Union government, it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy."

State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the "National Disaster Management Policy" provides provisions to accept voluntary offers from foreign nations in the wake of calamities.

"So far, a total of 3.8 billion Indian Rupees has been collected. Of this, 1.46 billion Indian Rupees came from various states, which contributed generously. This is apart from the contribution in the form of food grains from states like Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Tamil Nadu," said the chief minister.

There are still 1.2 million people residing in over 3,314 relief camps across the state, the chief minister said, adding that all efforts have been taken to prevent shortage of medicine and food, and to ensure all facilities at the relief camps.

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