Mumbai: Amid the political slugfest and war of words between Left-ruled Kerala and BJP-led government at the Centre over the acceptance of financial aid from the United Arab Emirates, the gulf country clarified that it has not fixed any specific amount for flood-ravaged Kerala.
The UAE’s Ambassador to India, Ahmed Albanna, said that there has been no official announcement so far by the UAE on any specific amount as financial aid.
He reiterated what his country announced a week ago, that it has formed a committee to ensure the funds reach the right beneficiaries in Kerala.
"No official announcement on the amount has been made by the UAE government yet. We have set up a national committee which is assessing relief needed for the flood and aftermath,” reports quoted Albanna saying.
The UAE’s ambassador to India added that the committee will work with the Ministry of External Affairs in India and the embassy to ensure the funds reach the needy.
When The Indian Express asked Albanna if he meant that the UAE had not announced Rs 700 crore in aid, the ambassador said: “Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced.”
On August 18, UAE's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted that his country had formed a committee to explore ways for helping Kerala.
An estimated three million Indians live and work in the UAE, of whom 80 per cent are from Kerala.
On August 21, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted that the UAE will "provide Kerala an assistance of Rs 700 crore. Kerala has a special relationship with UAE, which is a home away from home for Malayalees. We express our gratitude to UAE for their support."
The Centre however, has maintained that it has not received any official request from the UAE to donate towards rebuilding flood-ravaged Kerala.
Albanna said, “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 committee is coordinating with the federal authorities, since we know and understand the financial aid rules in India. And, it is also coordinating with the local authorities for immediate aid in terms of relief and food material,” he said. “We are working through the organisations like Red Crescent in UAE, and organisations in the state of Kerala as well as others based in India,” the UAE’s ambassador to India told The Indian Express.
The Kerala government has been criticising the Narendra Modi-government over what it alleges is the Centre not bringing clarity to the grounds on which the state can qualify to receive financial relief from foreign governments.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac as well as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan cited an entry in the National Disaster Management Plan, published in 2016, that allows the Centre to accept assistance offered by a foreign government.
"As a matter of policy, the Government of India does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster. However, if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer," says a section in the National Disaster Management Plan published in 2016.
Former Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to “bring suitable modifications” to rules which prevent India from accepting the UAE aid offer....