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Flood-ravaged Kerala seeks $1.4b loan for reconstruction

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A Public Works Department (PWD) machine repairs a collapsed bridge after floods at Nelliyampathy Village, in Kerala, August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NELLIYAMPATHY (Reuters) – India’s flood-ravaged Kerala state will seek to borrow more than 100 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) to finance reconstruction work after a disaster that has claimed nearly 400 lives, its chief minister said on Tuesday.

The proposed loan is part of a special package that the southern state, which estimates it has suffered damage of at least 200 billion rupees, will seek from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for rebuilding efforts, minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Kerala will ask Mr Modi’s government to raise the state’s borrowing ceiling to 4.5 percent of its GDP from 3 percent, which will help raise an additional 105 billion rupees from the market, Mr Vijayan said.

“Our aim is not merely a restoration of the state to pre-flood times, but the creation of a new Kerala,” Mr Vijayan told reporters.

The worst floods in the state in a century claimed 383 lives, razed tens of thousands of homes, and washed away roads and bridges. Around 1.3 million are sheltering in thousands of relief camps.

The federal government has classified the floods as a “calamity of severe nature,” and has committed 6 billion rupees in interim relief so far.

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