In the latest development in the row over the financial aid reportedly offered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for relief work in flood-ravaged Kerala, the UAE embassy in New Delhi on Friday said that the West Asian country had not officially announced any aid amount for the state.
UAE ambassador Ahmed Albannam, without mentioning financial aid, said his government only set up a national emergency committee to provide relief assistance to people affected by flash floods in Kerala.
In response, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that there was no lack of clarity on UAE aid for the flood-ravaged state and expressed hope the Centre would accept the "offer" of Rs 700 crore.
Vijayan said NRI businessman MA Yusuf Ali had informed him about the aid. "When I asked him whether it could be made public, he said there is no problem in it," the chief minister told reporters after a meeting to review the post-flood situation and relief operations.
The UAE aid was communicated to Ali when he had met the UAE crown prince to convey Eid-ul-Azha greetings, Vijayan said. The Kerala chief minister also said that the issue whether or not to accept the aid was a matter to be decided by the Centre. "I hope that this will be accepted," Vijayan said replying to a question on the row.
He also said that the reported aid of Rs 700 crore from the UAE for the flood victims was intimated to the world by the leaders of the two countries. Vijayan told the media that the offer of aid was made by the ruler of the Emirates to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Both these rulers themselves intimated this to the world. The issue now is whether to accept or not. My view is it should be accepted," he said.
There was no lack of clarity on the UAE aid to Kerala, he added. NDTV reported that the chief minister also pointed to a tweet by Modi to Prime Minister of UAE, HH Sheikh Mohammed, which read, "A big thanks to @hhshkmohd for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time. His concern reflects the special ties between governments and people of India and UAE."
The chief minister said he had nothing more to add to what he had stated on 21 August about the aid, and added that it was a matter discussed by the Crown Prince of UAE Sheikh Mohammed Bin Syed Al Nahian and Modi.
Meanwhile, the Kerala unit of the BJP has accused Vijayan of making up the UAE aid to paint Modi in a bad light. Addressing the media in Kozhikode, state BJP chief PS Sreedharan Pillai said, "We want Vijayan to explain about this news and from where he received it. After the Centre expressed reservations in accepting the aid, a vicious smear campaign was unleashed against the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
The issue of UAE aid has triggered a row, with the Centre deciding not to accept foreign aid for relief work in Kerala, and the ruling CPM-led LDF and the Congress in Kerala coing out against the central government's decision.
Officials in UAE embassy in New Delhi also said that no specific amount for financial aid to flood-ravaged Kerala was finalised officially by the United Arab Emirates and there was no announcement on donation to the state.
The West Asian nation may come out with its plan in the next few days to extend assistance to flood victims, an official said. Vijayan earlier this week said the UAE has decided to extend a financial assistance of Rs 700 crore to Kerala, considering the Gulf nation's special relationship with Kerala.
Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE, out of which 80 per cent are from Kerala, according to official figures.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 25, 2018 08:54:50 IST