Expat Indians in Gulf rally to help India’s flood hit

October 6th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Oct 6 (IANS) The large expatriate Indian community in the Gulf is mobilising its resources to provide aid to victims of the floods that hit India’s northern and eastern regions last month.In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), members of the Indian community have contributed over Rs.14 million ($300,000), which would be sent as aid to flood victims in the worst hit states of Bihar and Orissa.

“We have collected 1.1 million dirhams (Rs.14.2 million) and hope to get around two million dirhams (Rs.25.8 million),” Bharatbhai Shah, a prominent Indian businessman and community leader here, told IANS.

“We have set up a committee of eight members to handle the donations. The committee includes well-known Indian businessmen in Dubai like L.R. Lulla, Vinod Agani, Harish Pawani and K. Kumar,” he added.

Describing this year’s floods in Assam, Bihar and Orissa as no less a disaster than the Kutch earthquake and the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Shah said that he would be leaving for India after the festival of Diwali to take stock of the situation there.

“I will be going to India after Diwali to take stock of the situation there and also find a credible NGO who can help in our relief work. I will then come back and present the name of the NGO to the committee for approval and after that only we will proceed to India with the money,” he said.

Among the options the committee is looking at for utilising the funds is building houses for the flood affected people.

“Each house will cost around Rs.60,000. We are also not ruling out the possibility of adopting a village,” Shah said, adding that the committee was not in favour of distributing the money over different places.

“We would rather concentrate on one place or state as that would yield the maximum benefits. Funds being spread out thinly across different areas will not have the desired effect,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Oman, the Indian Social Club (ISC), under the aegis of the Indian embassy, is organising a fund-raising dinner Oct 11 as part of its efforts to collect donations for the flood affected.

Among those who will attend the dinner are film director Prakash Jha, TV personality Shekhar Suman and Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari, according to reports.

“The Bihar Flood Relief Committee is in the process of identifying organisations actively involved in relief and rehabilitation programmes,” reports quoted ISC chairperson Satish Nambiar as saying.

“Our focus will be on rehabilitation. And we plan to raise around 300,000 to 400,000 Omani riyals (Rs.49.3 million),” he said, adding that Indian schools in Muscat will be actively involved in the fund-raising campaign.

Apart from this, the Indian embassy is organising a series of fund raisers in October.

India’s Ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa has also appealed to members of the Indian community to donate a day’s salary for the cause.

Earlier, from Qatar, members of the Bihar Flood Relief Committee-Qatar (BFRC-Q) visited Bihar to distribute relief materials collected from Qatar to the flood-affected in that state.

BFRC-Q was formed by representatives of Qatar’s Indian Community Benevolent Fund, Indian Cultural Centre, Indian Association for Bihar and Jharkhand (IABJ) other Indian socio-cultural and professional organisations.

The team, led by Shakil Ahmed Kakvi, president of IABJ, met Minister for Chemicals, Fertilisers and Steel Ram Vilas Paswan, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other Bihar government and Red Cross officials during the course of the visit.

Of the over 4.8 million expatriate Indians in the Gulf, 420,000 are in Qatar, 500,000 in Oman and 1.5 million in the UAE.

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