Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government will initiate high-level discussions with the Centre to enable the transfer of funds from the UAE government in the wake of the floods in the state.
"The National Disaster Management policy provides provisions to accept voluntary offers from foreign nations in the wake of calamities," the chief minister said in response to reports of the Centre's reluctance to accept UAE aid worth Rs 700 crore.
Vijayan further said that people from various parts of the country and the state have come forward, irrespective of differences to help Kerala tide over the calamity.
"So far, a total of Rs 318 crore has been collected for the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. Of this, Rs 146 crore comes from various states, which contributed generously. This is apart from the contribution in the form of food grains from states like Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu," an official release read.
The statement comes shortly after the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar clarified the government's stance on acceptance of aid from the UAE.
"In line with the existing policy, the Government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts. 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," he noted.
Kumar also stated that there would be no change in the existing policy in regard to foreign aids. However, he expressed gratitude towards countries offering financial assistance to Kerala, which is witnessing the worst flood in many years.
On Tuesday, the Indian government stated that it will stick to its long-standing policy of not accepting monetary help from foreign countries. In a note to all Indian Missions around the world, the government directed its respective envoys to politely turn down the financial assistance from foreign countries, saying that the Government of India decided to "rely solely on domestic efforts" to combat the challenges.
While the southern state is reeling under the massive devastation caused by flash floods from the onset of monsoon, the entire country has come together to help the state limp back to normalcy. Chief Ministers from various states have also announced aid from their relief funds.
As many as 357 people have lost their lives so far, with the state incurring losses to the tune of Rs 19,512 crore. (ANI)