The Government of India (GoI) has announced that it will not take aid from foreign countries willing to send help to Kerala, which has been grappling with devastation caused by massive floods.
Speaking on the matter, the ministry for external affairs in the Modi government has said, “in line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts.”
The GoI announcement came hours after Kerala Kerala chief minister Pinarayi had said that impediments regarding accepting the Rs 700Cr aid from UAE will be removed.
Qatar, Maldives and Thailand had also expressed a desire to assist the relief and rehabilitation efforts in Kerala.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had announced announced a relief of Rs 500 crore to the state, in addition to Rs 100 crore announced by Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh.
Many in India had criticised the move and said that assistance of Rs 500 crore to flood-battered Kerala was “too little”, and Modi could have been “more generous” towards the state.
With estimates running around Rs 22,000 crore losses due to the floods, the ‘too little’ aid, in addition to blocking of International aid is seen by critics as a political punishment for a state that had not voted for the ruling party.
Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has questioned the government’s stand. “We asked Union Government for financial support of ₹2200 Cr ; they grant us a precious ₹600 Cr. We make no request to any foreign government but UAE governmentv voluntarily offers ₹700 cr. No, says Union gov, it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy,” he said.
It has been India’s policy since the tsunami of 2004 to use domestic funds to rebuild after natural disasters.
For many in Kashmir, memories of the 2014 floods, has brought people together to lend a hand to the people of Kerala. Civil society groups are collecting relief material in Srinagar to be sent to Kerala.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, a relief worker from Kerala said, “other states are helping us now, the civilian effort is commendable. This is a crucial moment for us and we are glad that people are coming forward.”
Apart from J&K government’s assistance of Rs 2 crore, J&K Bank announced a contribution of Rs 11 crore to the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
The floods have claimed over 200 lives, and displaced over 10 lakh people from their homes.