The Kerala government Tuesday sought a special grant of Rs 5,000 crore from the centre for livelihood development in the flood-ravaged state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi and submitted a memorandum listing the devastation in the state, rehabilitation works done and the assistance required for rebuilding Kerala after the deluge last month.
Mr Vijayan, however, said that there is no change in the centre's stand over the issue of accepting assistance from any overseas government.
"We can receive aid from foreign companies operating in the country. However, there are obstacles in receiving aid from foreign governments. The Prime Minister has even cited certain examples in this regard," the chief minister said.
"But we do not have to lose hope," Mr Vijayan added. While mentioning that around 700 families are still living in camps, the chief minister said that the disaster has affected 80 per cent of the state's population. "Kerala does not have the economic or financial capability to deal with this. We had requested Rs 4,796 crore from the national disaster relief fund which we are entitled to. We have also requested for a favourable decision in this regard," he said.
The state has sought to hike the current debt limit of 3.5 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to 4.5 per cent for the current financial year. Mr Vijayan has also sought a hike of 10 per cent in assistance from central schemes, saying it will generate Rs 10,000 crore of additional aid for the state. The chief minister praised the role played by various central agencies as well as departments in the state and the help extended by the citizens and especially the fishermen in rescue efforts.
"Six lakh houses were cleaned and the dirt and the residue that remained in homes after the flood waters receded were cleaned up. Cleaning of wells were done properly and because we have taken enough precautions to prevent communicable diseases, we did not face much loss in that regard. Cleaning activities still continue across the state," the chief minister said.
He said that over thousands of hectares of crops were destroyed and loss in cash crops will continue to affect the state for a while. Over the recent controversy surrounding donate-a-month's-salary challenge, Mr Vijayan said that his government is not forcing anyone to take up the challenge.
"We are not forcing anyone to take up the donate-a-month's-salary challenge. It's up to the people. But if you don't take it up, one day your kids might ask you why, and you will be answerable to them," he said with a smile. Rains and subsequent floods, said to be the worst in the past 100 years, had claimed 493 lives since the onset of the Southwest Monsoon on May 29, besides leaving a trail of destruction that saw nearly 14 lakh people displaced from their homes.
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