Kerala floods: reversing convention, will UAE's ₹700 crore aid flow into State?

Not taking foreign aid has been the convention since 2004 tsunami.

August 22, 2018 12:43 am | Updated 02:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Flood-affected areas of Chengannur seen from an Indian Navy helicopter. PTI

Flood-affected areas of Chengannur seen from an Indian Navy helicopter. PTI

Acceptance of foreign aid to deal with the flood situation in Kerala might reverse a 15-year-old convention first adopted by the Government of India in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

The modalities of accepting foreign aid in the aftermath of natural calamities have been reopened as sources in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) indicated that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has reached out to India with a proposal to offer ₹700 crore to Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared that the UAE had offered ₹700 crore to Kerala.

“It is a welcome step and India should take it in a positive way. It reflects closer ties between two countries,” a diplomatic source said, urging India to accept the offer.

However, former Indian envoy to the U.S. Ronen Sen said India had declined the aid offer of the U.S. after the tsunami hit the southern coasts in 2004.

However, then Ministry of External Affairs  spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had stated in the backdrop of similar proposals after the Uttarakhand floods that aid from abroad is not in order as India has “adequate ability” to address the necessity in such cases.

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said that not accepting foreign donation was not a hard and fast rule as it was a decision by the Cabinet Committee on Security at the time where former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India was capable of managing the domestic crisis as well as help other tsunami-hit countries.

The Ministry of External Affairs has, however, not responded to enunciate a clear official line for the situation in Kerala even as countries like the Maldives and Saudi Arabia have pledged help.

It may be noted that the Union government has given ₹600 crore so far for the relief and rehabilitation process in Kerala.

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