In what is certain to leave the Congress and the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala red-faced, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has rejected reports about it offering a generous Rs 700 crore aid to the flood-ravaged southern state. The UAE said it is yet to take a final decision over the financial assistance to Kerala in the wake of devastating floods.
UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna told Indian Express that there has been no official announcement so far by the UAE on any specific amount as financial aid.
"The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing. Announcing any specific amount as financial aid, I don't think it is final, since it is still ongoing," Albanna told the English daily.
"Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced," Albanna added when asked whether the UAE has announced a Rs 700 crore financial help.
"All that has happened is that UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has formed a national emergency committee. The main goal was to look into sourcing out funds, aid material, medicines and other things for our friendly people and friends in Kerala, who have been hit by the unfortunate flood," the newspaper quoted the UAE Ambassador, as saying.
Earlier, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the state government will approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear hurdles, if any, in receiving the 100 million dollars (Rs 700 crore) flood relief aid offered to the state by the United Arab Emirates.
Referring to reports that Centre was unlikely to accept foreign funds for the flood relief works, he said there were no obstacles for accepting such assistance.
"Donations from other countries are acceptable. Will approach the Prim Minister if required," he had told reporters.
The purported relief fund offered by the UAE had become a major topic of tussle between the state government and the Centre. Several Kerala ministers have been accusing the BJP government of deliberately trying to block foreign aide to the state.
"We asked Union Gov for financial support of Rs 2200 Cr ; they grant us a precious Rs 600 Cr . We make no request to any foreign gov but UAE gov voluntarily offer Rs 700cr. No, says Union gov , it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy," state finance minister Thomas Issac had tweeted.
We asked Union Gov for financial support of ₹2200 Cr ; they grant us a precious ₹600 Cr . We make no request to any foreign gov but UAE gov voluntarily offer ₹700cr. No, says Union gov , it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy.— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) August 22, 2018
The Centre has already clarified that the Rs 600 crore it has given to Kerala was an "advance help" and more funds will be released after an assessment of the damage.