- Centre is under attack by Opposition for refusing foreign aid for Kerala
- But KJ Alphons today said he will appeal for policy change
- "I have seen the misery. We need the money," he said
With the centre refusing any financial help from nations for flood-ravaged Kerala, Tourism Minister KJ Alphons today said he will appeal to the government for a change in policy on foreign aid that they "inherited" from the previous government of Manmohan Singh.
"It has been a consistent policy of India since 2004 that we shall not take any aid - from tsunami to Uttarakhand (flash floods) to everywhere else... we did not take any money when there was extensive damage. That's been a policy of the government... I would plead that for my state because I have seen the misery. We need the money," Mr Alphons, who is from Kerala and has been assessing damage there for the last 10 days, told NDTV.
The government is under attack by the Opposition for refusing aid for Kerala from countries like the UAE and Thailand.
Yesterday, the centre had clarified its stand on accepting foreign aid in a statement and said that "In line with existing policy, the government of India is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts."
While declining the offers, the government expressed "sincere appreciation" and said: "Contributions to PM relief fund and CM relief fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however, be welcome."
The centre's stand had received a sharp rebuke from Kerala's Left government. "This is a dog in the manger policy," tweeted Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.
Mr Alphons, who is from Kerala, has been touring the state extensively to assess damage caused by the worst floods in a century. 237 people have been killed since August 8 and over 14 lakh displaced after days of torrential rain earlier this month.
"The centre has given Rs 760 crore over the past two months is for immediate rescue and relief operations. As of today, the government of Kerala has more than enough money for rescue and relief operations. That's not a problem. The chief minister also accepts that. What we need is money for sending people back home, for rebuilding Kerala. Every home has to be rebuilt. Where is the money for that? We need a lot of money to do that," he told NDTV.
(Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.)