The South Indian State of Kerala that grapples with the worst ever floods in its history does not need relief materials but money, a top Indian diplomat said here on Monday. “The top officials the Kerala Government have clearly conveyed that ‘please ask our friends and well-wishers do not send relief materials’,” Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, told a press conference at the Indian Embassy.

Abu Dhabi: Indian expats’ enthusiasm and commitment to help flood victims in the south Indian state of Kerala should not lead them to the wrong side of the UAE laws on fund-raising, a top Indian diplomat warned here on Monday.

“The feedback received from the UAE Government suggested that some individuals and organisation are involved in fund raising. I have to draw the attention of fellow Indians to the local laws [about fund-raising],” Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, told a press conference at the Indian Embassy.

He said only organisations that have special permission from the UAE’s Community Development authorities can collect money and remit it abroad. The envoy was not sure whether any Indian community organisations in the UAE has such a permission.

Suri said the UAE authorities, including the Central Bank, have given the clearance for sending money directly from the UAE to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF), which is the best way to help the flood victims.

“We don’t want well-meaning efforts for the flood victims ending up in trouble. We are very mindful and respectful of local laws,” the ambassador said.

A community organisation wanted to open temporary counters of money exchanges at their premises; therefore, a large number of people can send money together. The ambassador said he advised not to do it, as the local laws do not permit money exchanges to open temporary counters.

Some others asked whether workers in workers’ accommodations could collect small contributions and send them together; however, it is illegal, the envoy said. Since some money exchange houses are willing to wire even small amounts such as Dh50 or Dh100 without charging a penny, they can utilise that facility, Suri said.

As Gulf News reported, Al Ansari Exchange, the UAE Exchange and Lulu Exchange facilitate free-of-cost remittance to the Kerala Chief Minister’s fund.

The envoy said a large number of people have been utilising this facility. “There is a very good response from people.”

While explaining to refrain from sending relief materials, the ambassador said he discouraged people who offered to send large amount of mineral water and medicines to Kerala. “First of all sending medicines needs special permission. Moreover, India is the pharmacy [a top producer of medicines] of the world. You can get medicines in India with one tenth cost in the UAE,” he explained.

All supplies such as mineral water can also be easily procured in India, he said. Therefore, sending money is the best option, the envoy reiterated.