Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan speaking to the Malayali community at Al Nasr Leisureland in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Thousands of Indian expats from Kerala in Dubai have taken up the ‘one month salary donation challenge’ to help rebuild their flood-ravaged homeland.

In response to their visiting chief minister’s appeal to help build a new Kerala, several Keralites in Dubai publicly pledged to donate their salaries and construct homes in the south Indian state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s public meeting on ‘Together for Kerala’ in Dubai’s Al Nasr Leisureland on Friday night became a platform for several Malayalis to express their solidarity with his mission.

Keralites in Dubai cheer for CM

While many individuals came on to the stage to pledge their donation of at least one month’s salary, a few commercial establishments and community organisations offered to build new homes and reconstruct damaged ones.

Representatives of one community group named IMCC UAE announced that 500 members of the group will donate their one month’s salary. United PRO Association, which had sent eight tonnes of relief materials, promised to build 10 new houses.

Many other individuals and organisations among the nearly one million-strong Malayali community in the UAE have also conveyed their willingness to support the rebuild Kerala mission during the chief minister’s visit, said K.L. Gopi, a senior member of the World Kerala Assembly which organised the Dubai meet.

Watch: Keralites in Dubai offer salaries to rebuild flood-ravaged Indian state

The public response from the community came after the session in which hundreds of them, who had gathered to meet Vijayan, were told Kerala needs them now more than ever before to rebuild the state to its pristine beauty.

“If you wish to do anything for our homeland, this is the time to do it,” said Dr. K. Elangovan, principal secretary, Industries and NORKA who presented the extent of ravage caused by the floods in mid-August.

Donations through the crowd funding portal www.rebuild.kerala.gov.in can be tracked with visual evidences for the updates on the projects supported, he said.

Amid thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd, the chief minister said the state government will make all efforts to achieve its mission to build a new Kerala in a time-bound manner, despite all the challenges.

Most houses that were destroyed in the floods and landslides will be reconstructed within months with the use of advanced technology, he promised.

He said the state government has requested India’s central government to offer a special package and also increase the cap on loans that the state can take from agencies like the World Bank.

Considering the current estimate of resource gap for rebuilding the state is Rs250 billion (Dh12.5 billion), he said the government has no other option but to seek funds from all possible sources.

“That is why we are requesting all Malayalis across the world to participate [in the rebuild Kerala mission]. There is no compulsion, we are not forcing anyone. But nobody can stop us from rebuilding our state. This state government will go ahead in fulfilling this mission.”

Vijayan thanked the UAE rulers and leaders who have shown special love for Kerala and the way they always offer support to Keralites.