Centre’s no to foreign aid for flood-ravaged Kerala flayed

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New Delhi:  India will not accept financial assistance from foreign governments for the flood-wrecked state of Kerala, the government clarified on Tuesday in a stance that could escalate a row with the state over help from abroad.

“In line with existing policy, the government of India is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement last night on the Kerala flood.

Hours later came a sharp response from Kerala’s Left government. “This is a dog in the manger policy,” tweeted Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.

He said that the Centre has announced an assistance of Rs 600 cr compared with a request from the state for at least Rs 2200 cr. The floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, have killed over 237 since August 8.

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The decision to decline foreign help drew criticism from the opposition which called for an end to the suffering of the people of the southern state hit by the worst flooding in a century, which has killed hundreds of people.

“The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries, including from foreign governments, to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods in Kerala,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The main opposition Congress party accused Modi of exacerbating the crisis by failing to come through with more aid and creating obstacles to foreign help.

“This decision is quite disappointing to the people of Kerala,” Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wrote in a public letter to PM Modi. “Rules should be such (that they) eradicate the sufferings of the people. If there exist any obstacle against the acceptance of foreign aid, kindly look into the matter seriously and bring suitable modifications.”

The foreign ministry said the government would welcome contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from foundations, Indians living abroad and from people of Indian origin.

Meanwhile, Isaac said on Twitter that the central government should compensate the state for refusing foreign aid.

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