Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday repeated his stance on financial assistance offered by the United Arab Emirates after the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded that he reveal who told him about the offer. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief minister said there was no ambiguity on the matter and cited businessman Yusuf Ali as his source, The News Minute reported.
Vijayan also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet thanking UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for “his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time”.
The chief minister said Ali had said he could share the information with the public. “As I mentioned the other day itself, aid was discussed between the United Arab Emirates crown prince and the prime minister,” Vijayan told reporters. “I hope the Centre will accept it. As for the Rs 700 crore figure, I had made it clear that the information came from businessman MA Yusuff Ali. I repeatedly asked him if I could reveal this. And he told me there was no problem if I did.”
The Centre on Wednesday said that it would not accept offers from foreign governments to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Kerala floods, but said contributions from international foundations were welcome.
On Thursday, UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna told The Indian Express that his government had not made any official announcement so far about the amount of financial aid it was willing to offer. “The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing,” the envoy said.
417 dead in Kerala floods, says Vijayan
The chief minister said 417 people had died in the state since May 29, when the monsoon arrived in Kerala, and that 265 people had lost their lives in rain-related deaths since August 8, according to IANS. He said 36 people were still missing. Around 7,000 houses were destroyed and 50,000 partially damaged by the flooding, Vijayan said.
Vijayan said there were 8,69,124 people living in 2,787 relief camps and announced a compensation of Rs 10,000 for those who leave or have left the facilities in the flood-hit state. “An amount of Rs 242 crore has been allotted from the CM’s Disaster Relief Fund for the purpose,” Vijayan told reporters.
Vijayan announced interest-free loans of Rs 10 lakh and said that the state banking committee has declared a moratorium of one to one and a half years to repay the loans, The News Minute reported. He added that public spaces would be designated for people to dump materials ruined by the flooding. “The responsibility has been given to the Clean Kerala Company which will collect the waste and give it away to agencies,” Vijayan said.
He said the state information technology department would oversee the re-issuance of important documents including identity cards.