Cash-strapped Kerala has to pay Rs 290 crore to Centre for rescue efforts during August floods, says Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala, which suffered a loss of Rs 31,000 crore during the floods in August, on Thursday wanted the Centre to expedite the promised assistance to enable it to rebuild the state.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state had received only Rs 2,683.18 crore in its Distress Relief Fund and was finding it difficult to cobble resources for the 're-build Kerala initiative.' He said the state has to pay Rs 290 crore to the Centre towards the rations received and rescue assistance provided during the floods.

"Air Force has asked the state to pay over Rs 33.79 crore as the charge incurred for the rescue efforts during the deluge," Vijayan told reporters. He also said he was planning to send a letter to the Centre to expedite the assured assistance.

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Vijayan said he had written to Union home minister Rajnath Singh to convene a high power committee meeting to provide assistance to the state. This is because the assistance will be provided only after the committee meeting, he said.

"We are not losing hope. However, assistance worth thousands of crores of rupees from foreign countries have been denied," he said. The Centre has said the Rs 600-crore aid extended to Kerala for flood relief was interim in nature and that more funds would be released after assessment of the damage by central teams.

Vijayan also dismissed the opposition’s allegations over lack of facilities at Sabarimala and Pamba which were also affected in the floods. "As of now, Pamba has 404 toilets. Last year it was 380, of which 240 were washed away in the floods. We had to rebuild from scratch.

“Can't say we lack facilities compared to last year. Actually, this year we have more facilities," Vijayan claimed. "We were able to arrange everything possible. Nilackal has 1,020 toilets and 50 bathrooms, while Sannidhanam (temple complex) has 1,043 toilets and 100 bathrooms.

We also have a water purification facility which can purify 25,000 litres water per hour. There are no worries there at Sabarimala," Vijayan said. About the controversy over Piravom Church incident, the chief minister said the apex court had dismissed a plea seeking contempt action against the state government.

"Court said it cannot take contempt action against government in matters related to religion. Even the Supreme Court has taken into consideration that conciliatory talks were going on," Vijayan said.

He said the questions raised by the High Court on Thursday was only to seek clarity in the matter and the Advocate General had responded to all queries posed by the court. "Even the high court had earlier said both the issues — at Sabarimala and the Piravom Church — are different," he said.

The high court on Wednesday came down heavily on the state government for adopting "double standards" in implementing Supreme Court judgements.

The court questioned how despite an apex court order the state government was unable to ensure that a group was allowed to offer prayers at a church, when authorities had "no difficulty in deploying thousands of police personnel at Sabarimala".

The court's observation came while considering a plea by the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Syrian Church seeking police protection for offering prayers at Piravom Church. Even though the apex court had allowed the Orthodox faction to offer prayers, members belonging to the rival Jacobite faction of the Malankara Church prevented them from entering the church.

The state government has drawn severe flak over its handling of Sabarimala issue as a section of devotees has been protesting its decision to implement the apex court order allowing entry of women of all age groups into the hill shrine.

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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2018 10:54:06 IST

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