Amid a row over accepting funds from foreign governments for Kerala, the Centre on Thursday said Rs 600 crore released two days ago to the flood-ravaged state was only the advance assistance and that additional funds would be released when an inter-ministerial team visits the state again and assesses the damage.
“It is clarified that Rs 600 crore released by Centre is the advance assistance only. Additional funds would be released from NDRF on assessment of the damages as per laid down procedure,” said the statement issued by the Home Ministry.
The Home Ministry response came after the Centre turned down the UAE’s offer of Rs 700 crore for relief and rehabilitation works in Kerala, saying that it will not take any financial assistance from foreign governments in sync with an existing policy.
India has been turning down overseas assistance since 2004 when the central government finalised a disaster aid policy in the wake of the tsunami.
On Tuesday, the central government had released Rs 600 crore to flood-hit Kerala as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Rs 500 crore) and Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Rs 100 crore) during their visits to the state. In Kerala, the central government has invited flak for the flood relief amount released so far — Rs 600 crore.
The home ministry further said during the floods in Kerala, the Centre has provided urgent aid and relief material in a timely manner and without any reservation.
The situation has been regularly monitored by the Prime Minister on daily basis and he visited the state on August 17-18, 2018. On his instructions, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary, regularly monitored and coordinated rescue and relief operations by holding daily meetings from Aug 16-21, 2018.
Senior officers of Defence Services, NDRF, NDMA and Secretaries of Civilian Ministries attended these meetings. Kerala Chief Secretary participated in these discussions through video conference.
Following the decisions taken during these meetings, the Centre launched massive rescue and relief operations. In one of the largest rescue operations, 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 medical teams of defence forces, 58 teams of NDRF, 7 companies of Central Armed Police Forces were pressed into service along with over 500 boats and necessary rescue equipments.
They successfully saved over 60,000 human lives by rescuing them from marooned areas and shifting them to relief camps, the statement said.
The unprecedented deluge in Kerala has claimed more than 230 lives and left a trail of destruction across the state. As per the initial assesement, the state government has said that Kerala has suffered an estimated loss of over Rs 19,000 crore.