Kerala floods: CM slams Centre for denying funds

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Friday lashed out at the Centre for allegedly showing indifference in granting aid for the rebuilding initiatives of the state, which had suffered the deadliest flood of the century in August.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the state had only received Rs 600 crore as central assistance so far from the BJP-led NDA government.

“However, we might have to give back Rs 265.75 crore from the Rs 600 crore to the centre if it seeks the Minimum Support Price for the rice and kerosene ration given to us during the floods,” the Chief Minister said.

“The whole world has been compassionate towards us, but the Centre is showing gross indifference in providing assistance to the flood-hit state,” Vijayan added.

He said the studies conducted by the World Bank and the United Nation (UN) agencies had estimated the total loss incurred by the flood-hit Kerala to the tune of Rs 31,000 crore. But the real loss would be much more, he said.

“The Central aid is inevitable for rebuilding post-flood Kerala. But not getting adequate aid from the union government is an issue before the state now,” Vijayan said. The state had expected better aid when union ministers visited the flood-hit regions, he said.

The Chief Minister said Kerala had not only been denied the central assistance it deserved but also lost the foreign aid announced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the ‘intervention’ of the union government.

A row had erupted in September last over the Centre’s refusal to accept UAE’s reported offer of Rs 700 crore to the flood-hit state. The Centre had said that India would not accept any assistance from foreign governments for Kerala in sync with an existing policy.

Vijayan also pointed out that state ministers were denied permission by the NDA government to visit foreign countries to mobilise funds for the rebuilding exercise.

“As per the guidelines of the National Disaster Response Fund, Kerala sought Rs 5,616 crore as aid for rehabilitation programmes. Besides this, a special package of Rs 5,000 crore was also sought,” the Chief Minister said.

Even this amount would be inadequate to compensate the losses the state had incurred in the devastating floods, which claimed over 490 lives, leaving a trail of destruction in August, Vijayan said.