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India turns down foreign aid for flood-ravaged Kerala


NEW DELHI — The Indian Government has politely turned down foreign aid to rehabilitate flood-battered Kerala although about one million people are rendered homeless as the state administration struggles to cope with the devastation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and the Maldives are among the countries that have offered help in relief and reconstruction work in the southern Indian state which has been pounded by heavy rains and floods.

“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 in Kerala.

“In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The ministry, however, said India would accept foreign contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from non-resident Indians (NRIs), people of Indian-origin who are citizens of other countries, and international foundations.

The floods have killed about 400 people in the state and caused massive damage to its infrastructure, leaving 1.2 million people homeless. Thousands remain marooned and in need of essential supplies.

The federal government has provided six billion rupees (about US$85 million) in assistance, but the rejection of foreign state aid means Kerala would be unable to receive the US$100 million offered by the UAE.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (pic) was keen to accept the UAE offer and wanted the central government to compensate his state if it refused foreign funds.

“We have heard there are some obstacles in receiving this fund. We will discuss with the government and go to the prime minister,” Vijayan was quoted as saying in the Indian media.

He said the UAE “cannot be considered as any other nation” as their rulers have underlined the contributions of people from Kerala in the country’s progress.

Workers from Kerala form a significant part of the three-million-strong Indian expatriate community in the UAE.