No announcement on Rs 700-cr Kerala aid, UAE clarifies

No announcement on Rs 700-cr Kerala aid, UAE clarifies

Men paddle their boat through the lawns of a partially submerged church at Kuttanad in Alleppey district, Kerala. Reuters Photo

Amid a row over Centre's decision against accepting foreign aid for flood-hit Kerala, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has clarified that it did not make any specific announcement about providing Rs 700 crore to support relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the state.

The UAE embassy in New Delhi clarified that the government of the Arabian Gulf nation had set up a committee to assess the quantum of assistance that would be required for rehabilitation of people and reconstruction of infrastructure in flood-ravaged Kerala. The committee would work with different organisations, including the ones representing the people of Kerala living and working in the UAE, it said.

A senior official of the UAE embassy in New Delhi also said the quantum of financial assistance that Abu Dhabi would offer had not yet been finalised. His comment came amid a row between the Centre and the Kerala government over foreign aid.

The clarification came even as media reports indicated that the Emirates SkyCargo airline would carry relief items weighing over 175 tonnes from the UAE to Kerala.

The governments of several other foreign nations, too, offered assistance for Kerala. New Delhi, however, politely rejected all the offers.

Meanwhile, responding to questions on the controversy in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there was no lack of clarity on the offer and said he hoped the Centre would accept the aid.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that the government would stick to the policy of meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts. It would welcome contributions to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and the Chief Minister's Relief Fund from non-resident Indians, People of Indian Origin and international entities such as foundations.

The Modi government's decision to decline individual offers of aid from foreign governments was in sync with the policy formulated by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA regime headed by Manmohan Singh almost 14 years ago — when the tsunami hit the southern coast of India in December 2004.

The decision of the BJP-led government to decline offers of assistance drew flak from Kerala, as well as from Opposition Congress.

UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also posted on Twitter, expressing solidarity for Kerala.

The UAE prime minister, who is also the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, earlier posted on Twitter pictures of the devastation caused by the flood in Kerala, with messages of solidarity in Malayalam. “The state of Kerala in India is currently witnessing huge floods, the most devastating in a century. Hundreds have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Ahead of Eid Al Adha, do not forget to extend a helping hand to our brothers in India,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed.