New Delhi: India on Wednesday politely declined financial aid from other countries to flood-devastated Kerala where 370 people have died so far.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to around 2.8 million expatriate Indians, most of whom hail from Kerala, has offered Rs 700-crore aid.
“The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries.
“In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” Kumar said.
“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.”
Various political leaders from Kerala have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow foreign aid.
Sources earlier in the day said that because of a decision taken by then UPA-I government after the 2004 tsunami, the Centre will not be accepting foreign financial aid.
The UPA-II government too reiterated New Delhi’s position after the 2013 cloudburst in Uttarakhand in which over 5,700 people died.
The sources here referred to the government’s statement then that said that “as a general policy in case of rescue and relief operations we have followed the practice that we have adequate ability to respond to emergency requirements”.
The statement said that for a variety of reasons, India has not in the past too, unless there are specific circumstances, been able to accept offers of assistance for rescue and relief.
“Beyond the rescue and relief phase there are other phases,” the ministry had stated.
“These are rehabilitation, reconstruction, and so on. If reconstruction and other measures are provided for those elements, we will examine how they fit into the broader plan in terms of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the region and take a call at that stage rather than say that this was for all times,” the ministry had said in the aftermath of the Uttarakhand cloudburst.
Apart from the UAE, Qatar has offered Rs 36 crore and the Maldives $50,000 as financial aid to Kerala.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Ambassador to New Delhi tweeted about India not accepting overseas donations for flood relief in Kerala.
“Informally informed with regret that the government of India is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief. Our hearts are with you, the people of Bharat,” Chutintorn Gongsakdi said.
Challenge shifts from rescue to relief
As rescue operations in Kerala on Monday entered its final stages, the biggest challenge before the authorities in the flood aftermath turned into managing the over 5,500 relief camps housing more than 7,00,000 people across the state.
The weather looked promising with no major rainfall expected in the state. Many people though continued to wait for rescue to arrive in several parts of Ernakulam district and interior Chengannur in Alappuzha district.
The death toll stands at 370, from May 29 when Kerala got the first of the monsoon rains, with the bulk of the fatalities being reported after August 9.
A tragedy of unprecedented proportion gripped the state after sluice gates of several rain-filled dams had to be opened.