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Home >Money >Personal-finance >How you can help Kerala, other flood-hit states

Even as Kerala’s hour of need is far from over as it looks to rebuild itself, several other states, including Assam, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Nagaland, are crying for help owing to damages caused by heavy rains, floods and landslides.

The floods claimed more than 483 lives and displaced over 1.4 million people in Kerala, while in Assam, over 10,000 people have been affected by the floods, and 41 lives have been lost, according to various media reports. Nagaland too is reeling under heavy rainfall which has claimed more than a dozen lives already; the state’s CM Neiphiu Rio has made an appeal on social media for donations to help with relief efforts.

In a statement released on 24 August, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that according to initial estimates, the state saw damages of 20,000 crore. The figure would have multiplied by now, but the total donations received by the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF), as of 30 August, is only 1,046.3 crore.

As the flood-hit states embark on the long road to recovery, you can play a part in the process by donating and contributing to the relief and rebuilding efforts. We take you through the details of how you can donate and battle any fraud.    

How to donate

You can help Kerala by donating to the CMDRF at donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in. You can also transfer money directly to a State Bank of India account, the details of which are listed on the website, or even make contributions through Paytm. 

The CMDRF is using the donations to fund relief efforts, and to aid individuals and families who have suffered damages during the disaster, including loss of life. It is also funding medical treatment.

Other than the government, you can also donate to the NGOs that are helping out flood victims. A few of them are also engaged in relief initiatives across flood-hit states. Some of the popular names are Goonj, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Habitat for Humanity (HFH) and Oxfam India. The NGOs are working on rehabilitation of displaced families, and providing regular meals and essentials to people who remain in relief camps. They are also providing help and equipment to those who are returning home and attempting to rebuild and make their houses and localities habitable again. 

HFH, for instance, is working with local government bodies in Kerala to provide essentials and equipment people need to clean their homes. Goonj is also involved in transporting relief materials, whereas The Akshaya Patra Foundation has set up makeshift kitchens for displaced families. You can log on to their websites or check out their social media pages to donate.

You can also donate in kind through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, which is allowing you to buy specifically-designed relief packages that can be sent to any collection centre in Kerala. You can also shop on portals like Amazon and Flipkart and send the materials to the District Collector’s Office in one of the affected districts of Kerala or even other affected states if you can find a reliable address of a collection centre.

“Kerala has made an appeal for volunteers and non-food items. People are slowly returning to their homes and cleaning drives have begun. People can contribute buckets, mugs, mops, brushes, soap and other essential items to ensure hygiene at this stage," said Pankaj Anand, director, programs and humanitarian assistance, Oxfam India.

As the threat of infections and diseases like rat fever looms large, there is also an urgent need for medical aid.

To donate money through Amazon and Flipkart for relief in Kerala, simply Google “Kerala flood relief" along with the name of the portal to find the relevant page. Goonj is taking donations through Flipkart and at its collection centres across the country, whereas Oxfam India is also accepting donations through Amazon. 

Even animals suffered and you can contribute for them as well. “We had a network of rescuers from across Kerala with a specific list of rescue calls. Most rescued animals have been reunited with their families," said Alokparna Sengupta, deputy director, Humane Society International/India. It’s also accepting donations through its website.

How to avoid fraud

It’s important to be careful about where to donate, and not be a victim of fraud in such a time of crisis. According to a report in Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama, several fake messages seeking funds for flood relief have been doing the rounds in Kerala. One in particular claimed to be from Kerala CMDRF, asking for donations to be made to personal bank accounts.

The best way to go about it is to choose a reliable NGO or government portal and follow the instructions listed on the official website. Most responsible NGOs typically keep a record of donations and fund utilisation and issue detailed reports from time to time. 

How do you benefit 

Although giving is rewarding enough in itself, an extra tax benefit doesn’t hurt. Charity through specific institutions will give you tax benefit under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act. 

You can claim deduction of the amount you donate from your gross total income. However, the deduction percentage will depend on the organisation you donate to. For instance, if you donate to a government fund like the Kerala CMDRF or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, you would be eligible for a 100% deduction, whereas donating to most notified NGOs will fetch you a 50% deduction. Goonj, Oxfam, HFH, HSI, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, and other organisations provide a tax benefit certificate upon request.

“If you intend to claim tax benefit, make sure you know how much deduction the donation will be eligible for. The income tax and the organisation’s websites will list this information, and it should be printed on your receipt as well. But keep in mind that the total amount of deductions for donations to charity in a year can’t exceed 10% of your annual income," said Kuldip Kumar, tax partner, PwC.

As various states, particularly Kerala, struggle to stand on their feet again, it’s time to do your bit.

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