When the ambassador was asked whether UAE has announced the RS 700 crore aid or not, he said that “Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced.”
Amidst the political slugfest that has erupted in the aftermath of the Centre’s reported refusal to accept a Rs 700-crore aid from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for Kerala flood victims, the Ambassador of the Gulf country in India has categorically denied ever making any announcement of the aforementioned amount and said the “assessment of relief” was still going on.
“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 Indian Express. Asked specifically if UAE has not announced the Rs 700 crore aid, he said, “Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced.”
This comes week after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed in his telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has offered an assistance of Rs 700-crore. Vijayan had also asserted that “UAE cannot be considered as any other nation”.
The Left-ruled state government had launched severe criticism of the central government after reports that the Ministry of External Affairs had rejected the UAE offer by underlining India’s policy on “meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts”.
“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 have 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,” Ambassador Albanna was quoted as saying by IE.
“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 Ambassador said.
The central government has drawn flak from the opposition parties and others for invoking a policy decision taken by the Manmohan Singh government in 2004 in the aftermath of the Tsunami for not accepting foreign aid. However, Union minister K J Alphons last night appealed for a “one time exception” to the 14-year convention to allow overseas assistance, notably from the United Arab Emirates(UAE).
“Kerala has contributed huge amounts of foreign exchange through remittance in the last 50 years. In fact in the last year itself, it had brought Rs 75,000 crore… For these reasons, as junior minister I am appealing to my senior colleagues to make a special consideration for the state. I appeal to them to make a one-time exception to the policy,” Alphons was quoted as saying by PTI.