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India rejects $100m Kerala flood aid from UAE Open in fullscreen

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India rejects $100m Kerala flood aid from UAE

Residents wade through flood waters in Kerala [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2018

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The government has a longstanding policy of rejecting aid from foreign governments, but the practice is drawing criticism.

India on Wednesday rejected $100 million in aid from the UAE over floods in Kerala state, which has to date killed more than 400.

The move came despite Kerala's chief minister pleading with India's government to accept the Gulf state's largesse.

"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.

The ministry added that foreign money could only be donated through Indian-origin individuals or foundations, a longstanding policy of the South Asian country. 

India has a record of refusing foreign aid after disasters, with the government turning down foreign help after the 2004 tsunami. Experts say Indian authorities want to prove they can handle any emergency by themselves.

The Maldives government had also promised money for the floods.

But the refusal is likely to spark a political controversy.

The UAE's offer is more than the $97 million so far promised by India's central government - Kerala's chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has requested a $375 million package from the government, saying the state must confront more than $3 billion in devastation.

The monsoon floods have left more than 420 dead since June with some 1.34 million people now in over 3,300 relief camps across the state.

"The whole world is extending a helping hand towards the State at this juncture," Vijayan added, citing distress contributions from across the country - and exhorting New Delhi's further assistance.

A Kerala government spokesman told AFP that all rescue operations had been completed and now the focus was on giving immediate relief and future planning.

Tens of thousands of people across the state are still relying on community kitchens for meals.  

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