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Friday, August 24, 2018

great relief work by Indian army ~ row over funds that were never allotted - UAE Aid #Keralafloods

Chennaites would never forget that first week of Dec 2015 when water flowed over Saidapet bridge – inundating many parts of the city - several reports   published by media houses  crammed calling it  the “negligence” of Government officials in either not releasing water at the right time or in not giving out enough warning to people living in areas around the Adyar River so that they could shift to safety. .. .. .. and there were invidious comparisons on how Commies were managing the neighbourhood State.

Every time people talk about democracy, freedom of expression and more – there could be some Red thinking behind .. they could well remember the History, least the recent history – of the bloody occurrence 50 years ago.  At 1:55 a.m. on August 21, 1968 Czechoslovak Radio began broadcasting an announcement from the Czechoslovak Communist Party leadership: The country had been invaded just before midnight by five Warsaw Pact countries. An estimated quarter of a million soldiers from notional ally states flooded into Czechoslovakia. Thousands of enemy tanks, some of which had arrived on Soviet army planes at Prague Airport, were rolling through the country.

On that fateful day, fifty years ago Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to violently quash the democratic reform movement against communism known as the Prague Spring. Led by Alexander Dubcek, then-newly elected Communist Party leader, Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1968 initiated a process of liberalising a communist regime that had seized power 20 years earlier. It was claimed to be  "socialism with a human face" but when thousands of tanks accompanied by 200,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers from Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany and Poland invaded Czechoslovakia, many were brutally massacred.

There has been so much of news and views on social media on how much Indian Govt gave and why Indian Govt spurning offer of UAE was bad !!  - it was reported all over that the Central Govt   rejected an offer by the United Arab Emirates government to give $100 million to a special fund for Kerala state after its floods which killed more than 400 people.  Though a statement of Foreign ministry read that it was in tune with the existing policy - "In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,"  there were memes and Kerala state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for "high level" talks with the national government so the UAE money could be accepted.

The sympathizers instead of praising the effort of the Centre, the Army and other organizations like RSS involved in relief work, was bent on creating memes that the UAE offer was more than the $97 million promised by India's central government. Vijayan has asked for a $375 million package from the government, saying the state must confront more than $3 billion in devastation.

Now comes the climax at a time when war of words rages over whether to accept Rs. 700 crore offered by the United Arab Emirates for flood-hit Kerala.  NDTV and other frontline media report that UAE has said it has yet to make any official offer and has not fixed any amount as financial aid, even though multiple statements from Kerala ministers refer to the so-called offer. The UAE's ambassador to India, Ahmed Albanna, reiterated today what his country announced a week ago, that it has formed a committee to ensure the funds reach the right beneficiaries in Kerala. "We have set up a national committee for aid to Kerala. The committee will work with the MEA (India's foreign ministry) and the embassy to ensure the funds reach the needy," Mr Albanna told NDTV.

"No official announcement on the amount has been made by the UAE government yet," the ambassador said, adding that the foreign ministry had no communication from the government of UAE. The centre has maintained that it has not received any official offer for financial help from any nation for Kerala. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, however, tweeted on August 21 that the UAE will "provide Kerala an assistance of Rs. 700 crore. Kerala has a special relationship with UAE, which is a home away from home for Malayalees. We express our gratitude to UAE for their support."

The coastal state's ruling Left Democratic Front has been criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for depriving it of foreign funds while providing hopelessly inadequate funds for rehabilitation efforts after the record flood that has left nearly 240 dead and lakhs displaced since August 8. The state's Finance Minister, Thomas Isaac, had tweeted "We asked the union government for financial support of Rs. 2,200 crore; they grant us a precious Rs. 600 crore. We make no request to any foreign government but UAE voluntarily offers Rs. 700 crore. No, says union government, it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy."

Here are something interesting which do not meet the eyes of common man.

·         While so many experts (!) spoke on TN Govt releasing water suddenly,  Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala made a blistering attack on the state government, calling the worst floods the state witnessed in a century a ‘man-made disaster’, stating it to be ‘dam mismanagement’
·         The magnitude of the Kerala catastrophe could have been minimised if the agencies involved in reservoir management had used a technically sound approach in the opening of the dam gates, said Professor Nayan Sharma, a dam expert and former professor at IIT Roorkee. In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Sharma, who visited a number of dam sites in the southern state along with a dam break analysis team formed by the Kerala government in 2011, said that there should be a proper inquiry on why no technically sound method was followed while opening up the dam gates. “It is a known scientific reality that no gate of any dam with a full reservoir should be opened all of a sudden. It should be opened gradually within a long span of time to prevent flooding. But in the case of Kerala, it was seen that the gates of 35 dams were opened at the same time, which resulted in the massive flood,” he added.
·         Amidst rows on foreign funds, Central  Govt said Rs 600 crore released to the flood-ravaged state was only the advance assistance and that additional funds would be released when an inter-ministerial team visits the state again and assesses the damage.
·         The turning down of the  UAE’s reported offer was very much in tune with the National Disaster management plan formulated in the days of Dr Manmohan Singh, immediately following tsunami in Dec 2004. 

Sad is the state of affairs

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Aug 2018.

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