In August this year, India’s southern state of Kerala suffered its worst monsoon flooding in a century, with more than one million people displaced, and 400 plus deaths reported.
Aid agencies and government groups had set up more than 4,000 relief camps, while rescue personnel were making their way to submerged villages in helicopters and boats, bringing supplies, and evacuating those they can find. Weeks of heavy rainfall caused dams to open their floodgates, triggered landslides in the mountains, and swamped the coastal regions of Kerala.
On 22nd August, India rejected an offer by the United Arab Emirates government to give US$100 million to a special fund for Kerala state after its floods which killed several people. The move came despite calls to accept the Gulf state’s largesse by Kerala’s chief minister who has pleaded for more aid than India’s government has so far committed to.
“In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement explaining the move.
Now in nothing less than a rude shock, the Kerala government has received a bill of over Rs. 33 crore to be paid to the Controller of Defence Accounts. This payment is towards the airlift services provided by the Indian Air Force during the massive deluge in August this year. Further, this amount also includes Rs. 2,03,15,000 for the airlift services provided to the state government of Kerala by the Air Force.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his astonishment and addressed the media saying,
“This bill should be seen as been sent by the central government. We in the recent past have also written to central government, stating that we were expecting the ration including the extra quota of rice and kerosene as free of charge, given as assistance during the floods. But we’ve not received any response to even that.”
“The estimated loss in the state has been around Rs. 31,000 crore. We received Rs. 600 crore from the Centre as emergency fund. And now we have to pay these bills from that money and will be left with even lesser amount. We shouldn’t be disappointed. The truth is that we have got much less than what we should have received as financial assistance from the Centre. Let’s hope that they will calculate all this and give us equivalent amount as assistance,” Mr Vijayan added.
Some prominent figures from Kerala and other social media users have reacted sharply to this payment demanded by the Centre in times of disaster:
The Central Govt has given ₹600cr towards damages of ₹31000cr incurred by Kerala, & now wants ₹33cr of it back. Hope they don’t ask the flood-hit state to pay for @PMOIndia ‘s aerial inspection flight as well! https://t.co/snTfKP9ONT
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 29, 2018
Modi didn't let Kerala receive generous support from Gulf countries after devastating flood. Adding salt to injury, now asking Kerala to pay for Center's relief & rescue. That Bigot is a Lowlife! https://t.co/ZqyUeAG2PU via @IndianExpress
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) November 29, 2018
We received your bill for rescuing us during #KeralaFloods.You may not know this but we nearly died and lost everything a few months back.I'm not saying any excuses we know you took money from your mother's purse to rescue us. Pls give us a little more time. https://t.co/HfbMKRTpNx
— Ameer Mohammed (@ameerpn) November 29, 2018
This is :-
That the Modi Govt has Demand back from the Kerala Govt, the 290 odd Crs, GOI spent on #KeralaFloodRelief when the State is just recovering
Extremist Mindsets!! https://t.co/xCE9In7W39
— HARRY. (@chilledharry211) November 30, 2018
I can't see anything! (Unless your name is amb/ad ani) pic.twitter.com/zIirAIcRIp
— Revathy (@RevathyNS) November 29, 2018
As said in railways ticket are you (pm) aware that 💯 percent of your expenses is borne by the common citizens of the country ? Even I we got to accept your leave letter too pic.twitter.com/WBWkysiBd0
— indian80 (@jamshi80phone) November 30, 2018
— Ashwani Kishor (@AshwanKishor) November 30, 2018
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