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Allow Kerala to receive foreign flood aid, MPs urge Rajnath.

Reliance Foundation chairperson Nita M Ambani hands over a cheque of Rs210mn to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan towards the Chief Minister's Relief Fund in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday.

IANS/ New Delhi

Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday assured Kerala that the central government would provide all possible help after a delegation of MPs said foreign assistance should be allowed to reach the flood-ravaged state. The worst floods to devastate Kerala in nearly a century have left 483 people dead, displaced thousands and destroyed property on a massive scale. The minister's assurance came after 11 Kerala MPs belonging to the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Kerala Congress (Mani) and an independent briefed him about the situation in the state and demanded more support from the government. The MPs urged Singh to allow foreign assistance to the state as the central government, citing a 2004 decision, had turned down a reported offer of Rs7bn from the United Arab Emirates. The delegation included A K Antony, K V Thomas, K C Venugopal, K Suresh, Anto Antony, M K Raghavan (all Congress), P Karunakaran and P K. Biju (CPM), N K Premachandran (RSP), Jose K Mani (Kerala Congress Mani) and Joice George (CPM-backed independent). After the meeting, Antony said all parties are united on rebuilding Kerala. "We have demanded more funds for the state. We also urged him to waive the restriction on foreign assistance. The home minister has assured us that he will speak to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the issue," Antony told reporters. The central government has so far allotted Rs6bn to Kerala for flood relief. In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vjayan said the estimated value of destruction "is more than the annual outlay of our state." Vijayan said 14 people still remained missing although flood waters have receded from almost all parts of the state. He added that at the height of the floods there were 1.4mn people in more than 3,000 relief camps. "The latest figure is -- there are 59,296 people in 305 relief camps. A total of 57,000 hectares of agriculture crops have been destroyed. An approximate estimate of the loss is more than the annual outlay of our state," he said. Hitting out at the government, senior Congress legislator V D Sateeshan, whose constituency Paravur in Ernakulam district was submerged, called it "a man-made tragedy". "This is not a natural calamity, instead a man-made tragedy due to the faulty handling of the dam water management. Dams in the state were overflowing and the primary reason for this tragedy is the way the dam waters were indiscriminately let out," he said. "Several dams were opened at midnight. The need of the hour is to fix responsibility and find out who all are responsible for this."

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Aug 30, 2018
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