BENGALURU: Kerala will hold a conclave, inviting global aid and loan agencies, to raise money for reconstruction from its worst floods last year. The move comes amidst criticism that the state government has been laid-back in its rebuilding efforts.
The conclave titled 'Development Partners Conclave' will be held in capital city Thiruvananthapuram on 15 July. The state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters on Thursday that he expects participation from several high-profile international and national agencies at the summit.
They include, the CM said, World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), German state-owned development bank KfW Group, Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA), United Kingdom's state-arm for overseas aid Department for International Development (DFID), French Development Agency or Agence Française de Développement (AFD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), German International Development Cooperation (Giz), Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Kerala floated an arm called 'Rebuild Kerala Initiative (RKI)' in November 2018 to shepherd post-floods reconstruction work, essentially to cut short delays. However, RKI has been receiving a lot of flak from the opposition and from the press for exactly what it was aimed to remove— delays in rebuilding.
Opposition Congress legislator V. D. Satheesan alleged in a June-assembly session that out of an estimated 17500 fully-damaged houses, the government has not been able to rebuild even 1500 ones. "If you plan to have a logo for the RKI, the snail would be ideal," said Satheesan. The RKI's office also came under attack. While setting up, the agency spent a whopping ₹88 lakh for interior design alone and its daily running expenses came up to about ₹1.5 lakh. The opposition, but, is not blemishless. It first promised to rebuild 1000 flood-hit houses and then reduced the figure to 500, denting its image.
Apart from operational challenges, the cash-strapped state government has been grappling with a major financial hurdle to do the reconstruction in full swing. The state has offered or is in the process of finalising these loans— a $500 million from World Bank, $200 million from ADB, $100 million from KfW. It has also raised about ₹3000 crore in charity donations. But, the CM said, the money is not enough.
"In the next ten years, a huge cost has to be spent on reconstruction. UN and World Bank study put the total loss figure at ₹31000 crore. Government began discussions with national and international agencies to join hands in the reconstruction quite early," said Vijayan. "But the aids we received so far won't be enough to execute the projects under RKI, considering the volume of properties and systems that need to be reconstructed. We need to tap other national and international agencies too and we hope the conclave will help in this matter."