Home India Centre Clarifies On Rs. 600-Crore Kerala Aid As Foreign Help Row Escalates

Centre Clarifies On Rs. 600-Crore Kerala Aid As Foreign Help Row Escalates

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KOCHI/NEW DELHI: In the middle of an escalating row over foreign aid, the centre clarified on Thursday that Rs. 600 crore given to flood-hit Kerala was only “advance assistance” and more funds would be released after another assessment by an inter-ministerial team.
The dispute started after the centre declared on Wednesday that it would not accept any help from nations, in sync with India’s policy, in response to a reported offer of $100 million (around Rs. 700 crore) by the United Arab Emirates.

An angry Kerala has accused the centre of depriving it of foreign funds while allocating only Rs. 600 crore against its demand for Rs. 2,200 crore for rebuilding efforts after the state’s worst floods in a century.

“This is a dog in the manger policy,” Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had tweeted.

A home ministry statement last night said: “It is clarified that Rs. 600 crore released by Centre is the advance assistance only. Additional funds would be released from NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) on assessment of the damages as per laid down procedure.”

The home ministry said the centre had provided urgent aid and relief material “in a timely manner and without any reservation”. The ministry also detailed massive rescue and relief operations, involving 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 medical teams of defence forces, 58 teams of NDRF and Central Armed Police Forces along with over 500 boats.

Over 60,000 people were rescued from flooded regions and taken to relief camps, the statement said.

“Defence aircraft and helicopters have made 1,084 sorties of duration 1,168 flying hours and airlifted 1,286 tonne of load and carried 3,332 rescuers. In addition, a number of Navy and Coast Guard ships were pressed into service to carry relief material to Kerala. The search and rescue operations and mobilisation of resources alone would cost the central government hundreds of crores of rupees.”

The government said Rs. 600 crore was released in advance “pending an assessment” by a team of ministers. This, the statement added, was apart from Rs. 562.45 crore already in the State Disaster Relief Fund, to which the centre contributes 75 to 90 per cent.

The floods in Kerala have left nearly 240 dead since August 8.

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