Meanwhile, the Left government in Kerala is at loggerheads with the BJP government at the Centre on the question of accepting foreign aid for rehabilitation purposes in Kerala.
Amid the debate on whether to accept or not financial aid pouring in from foreign governments for relief in flood-ravaged Kerala, UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna told The Indian Express that the Gulf nation has not made any official announcement so far on the specific amount.
Albanna told the paper that the assessment of relief needed for relief and rehabilitation is still going on and when asked if the UAE had not announced Rs 700 crore in aid, he said, “Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced.”Earlier this week, Chief Minister of Kerala had announced that the UAE will provide the flood-stricken state an assistance of Rs 700 crore and that the same has been communicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE's Armed Forces.
This was communicated to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi (@PMOIndia) by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan (@MohamedBinZayed), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE's Armed Forces.
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 21, 2018
PM Modi had even tweeted his gratitude to the Emir of Abu Dhabi for his generosity.
A big thanks to @hhshkmohd for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time. His concern reflects the special ties between governments and people of India and UAE.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 18, 2018
However, the Ministry of External Affairs – while expressing gratitude financial aid from foreign governments – stated that, “In line with the existing policy the Government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts”.
Ambassador Albanna told the paper that the discussion happened between UAE’s Prime Minister, Vice President and the Ruler of Dubai, and it primarily focused on sourcing out funds, medicines and other aid material to Kerala. He said that his country is also coordinating organisations like Red Crescent in UAE with local authorities in Kerala so as to disburse aid immediately. “The committee is coordinating with the federal authorities, since we know and understand the financial aid rules in India”, Albanna added.
Albanna mentioned that the UAE leads the world in providing humanitarian aid — from Kerala to Sudan, Bangladesh to Somalia. “It is part of UAE’s responsibility,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Left government in Kerala is at loggerheads with the BJP government at the Centre on the question of accepting foreign aid for rehabilitation purposes in Kerala. In fact, Union Minister of Tourism KJ Alphons, who hails from the state, said that he has pleaded with his fellow Cabinet ministers to make an exception in the case as “there are more than 1.3 million people in relief camps and more than two lakh houses have been damaged”.
However, Kerala’s BJP chief Sreedharan Pillai told that there was no such offer from the BJP and that “this is the biggest lie of the century, spread by the CPI (Marxist) and the Left”. He said that in the case such an offer was made, then it is the Centre’s prerogative to take a stand on it.
In the light of this, the EU Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski announced a contribution of 190,000 euros for relief and channeled it through the Indian Red Cross. “The aid will directly benefit 25,000 from among the most affected people in some of the worst hit areas of the state,” the EU mission said in a statement.While the incumbent government is in keeping with policy of not accepting foreign aid for a disaster which was formed in 2004 by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, former National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said that foreign aid could be used for long-term rehabilitation “case by case” if not for immediate relief.
If memory serves, the 2004 decision was to not accept foreign participation in relief but accept it for long term rehabilitation case by case. No rescue teams needing hand-holding and interpretation but yes to help rebuilding houses, bridges, roads etc. A way forward for Kerala?
— Shivshankar Menon (@ShivshankaMenon) August 23, 2018
Former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Tao also tweeted:
True that as country we can give rather than take assistance,but 80% of Indians in the Gulf are Malayalis. Offer of flood relief assistance from region must be treated with sensitivity. Saying no is simple, but for Kerala-in-crisis, it’s not so simple. https://t.co/4ojS5gX3BH— Nirupama Menon Rao (@NMenonRao) August 22, 2018
BJP's national in-charge for information and technology, Amit Malviya also reacted to the development.In a tweet, Malviya said, "It is disconcerting to note that a section aligned to the Communist-Islamist nexus in Kerala, celebrates a non existent offer from a foreign country while runs down Indian state and organisations such as Seva Bharati simply because it doesn’t suit their ideological narrative..."
It is disconcerting to note that a section aligned to the Communist-Islamist nexus in Kerala, celebrates a non existent offer from a foreign country while runs down Indian state and organisations such as Seva Bharati simply because it doesn’t suit their ideological narrative... pic.twitter.com/6Z87iG8EXW
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 24, 2018