Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday requested Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to exempt the state from paying over Rs 113 crore to the Indian Air Force for the rescue operations it carried out during the floods last year, PTI reported on Friday. In his letter, Vijayan told Singh that the state lacked funds to honour the bill of Rs 113.69 crore the IAF has sent it.

According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report, prepared by the United Nations, the state needs Rs 31,000 crore to rebuild its infrastructure, Vijayan said. “You would appreciate that in such a situation, it is difficult to find such a huge amount due to the Indian Air Force from the State Disaster Response Fund,” he said. “I would, therefore, request your kind consideration to exempt the payment of Rs 113.69 crore to the IAF considering the present situation of Kerala.”

The chief minister said Kerala received a “very meagre” amount of Rs 2,904 crore from the National Disaster Relief Fund. “The state of Kerala was struck by Cyclone Ockhi in 2017 and floods in 2018 which caused immense damage to life and property and created a stress on the already fragile financial situation of the state,” Vijayan told Singh.

The chief minister also said the state had launched the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, for which the government needed more funds.