With Rs 200-bn floods loss, Kerala to ask Centre to raise borrowing limit

Roof of a house collapses following a flash flood, triggered by heavy rains, at Kodencheri in Kozhikode district of Kerala 
The Government of Kerala will ask the Centre to raise the state's borrowing limit from three per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to 4.5 per cent, along with a special package of Rs 26 billion. 

A special session of the Legislative Assembly will be called on August 30 to discuss the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work to be taken up.  

"Today, the Cabinet has met and decided to submit a comprehensive plan to the central government for rehabilitation of the affected people and the rebuilding of the state. Our plan is not to restore the state to the pre-flood scenario, but to create a new Kerala," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.  

This will require a large amount of resources. The state will demand that the Centre raise the ceiling on borrowing, which is pegged at three per cent of the GSDP at present, for the state to 4.5 per cent. This will help the state to raise an additional Rs 105 billion from the market, Vijayan said. 

The government will also request a special scheme from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) for long-term projects for social sector reforms and infrastructure development in agriculture and irrigation.    

A special package is also required on central schemes, including the employment guarantee scheme. Further, while the central government had earlier agreed in principle to a request for funds, the state government will be asking for more funds to the tune of around Rs 26 billion.

The plan outlay for the year 2018-19 is Rs 372.48 billion and the same amount is required for the revival of the state.

The United Arab Emirates has already allocated Rs 7 billion for relief to the state, said Vijayan. 

In flood-affected areas, a moratorium has been announced on the collection of debt arising from loans given by both commercial and cooperative banks.  However, some private financial institutions are still approaching people in relief camps and seeking the monthly payment. Vijayan warned that such practices must be stopped.  

While the state had earlier estimated a loss of Rs 200 billion, this figure will increase in the detailed assessment.     

The flood has been a severe blow to Kerala's economy and the state is in the process of reconstruction and finding resources.

"The plan outlay of the state is Rs 372.48 billion. Out of this, Rs 103.30 billion is meant for construction. In such a scenario, the state has to bear a heavy responsibility. When the prime minister arrived, the estimated loss was Rs 200 billion, primarily due to the floods. This will go up in the detailed assessment. The amount allocated for one-year projects should be utilised to recover from the tragedy. One year's development will be completely eliminated," the chief minister told reporters. 

"From August 8 to 20, 223 people have lost their lives, 33 are missing and around 1.2 billion people are at 3,941 relief camps," he added.

Various state governments have contributed around Rs 1.53 billion to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, said State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. This amount includes Rs 250 million from Telangana, Rs 200 million from Maharashtra, Rs 150 million from Uttar Pradesh, Rs 100 million from Madhya Pradesh, Rs 100 million from Delhi, Rs 100 million from Punjab, Rs 100 million from Karnataka, Rs 100 million from Bihar, Rs 100 million from Gujarat, Rs 100 million from West Bengal, Rs 100 million from Chhattisgarh, Rs 50 million from Tamil Nadu, Rs 50 million from Odisha, and Rs 3 million from Assam. 

The chief minister on Monday night said that a sum of Rs 2.1 billion, including the Rs 450 million received online, had been allotted. Promises to the tune of around Rs 1.6 billion had also been received, he added.  

The Confederation of Indian Industries has volunteered to repair 1,000 houses that have been affected due to floods. The Uralungal Society, a cooperative society that runs IT parks and others, has agreed to provide 200 electricians and plumbers for rehabilitation works in Chalakkudy.   

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