Thiruvananthapuram: Germany has offered a massive aid package to support climate resilient rebuilding of Kerala's flood-battered public infrastructure, which includes a nominal interest loan of Rs 720 crore (90 million Euros).
The package, announced at a press meet here by the German Ambassador to India, Dr Martin Ney, also has a technical grant of three million Euros (Rs 24 crore) to provide international expertise to the Public Works Department in climate resilient infrastructure planning to reconstruct roads and bridges.
In addition to this, Germany proposed to finance a 117 million Euros (Rs 940 crore) to provide Kochi with an integrated water transport system called 'Water Metro' within Indo-German Economic Co-operation, a press release said.
Earlier,Dr Ney called on the Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and expressed Germany's willingness to provide through the Government of India, Euros 90 million as institutional support to the 'Rebuild Kerala' Initiative.
The rains and floods during the South West monsoon this year had claimed 493 lives, besides causing widespread damage, destroying homes, bridges and roads.
The costs for reconstructing the destroyed infrastructure has been estimated at Rs 25,000 crore (3.5 billion USD).
"Germany is ready to support Kerala during these challenging times and is pleased to contribute to the Rebuild resilient Kerala Initiative. Our common goal will be to build back better and to help restore peoples livelihood as soon as possible," Dr Ney said.
The support would be implemented through the German Development Bank KfW.
Dr Ney said that according to his information, Germany was the only partner country to come out with bilateral aid (for Keralas rebuilding) "so fast and of such scale".
"The aim is not just to reconstruct, but to reconstruct in a much better way so that the roads and bridges in Kerala would be able to withstand the future disasters", the Ambassador was quoted as saying in a release.
"The project was worked out bilaterally with the Government of India, as that is the standing procedure in such matters", Dr Ney said, adding that the loan would be provided on a nominal rate and it has very good conditions.
The next step was signing of the loan agreement between KfW and the Government of Kerala, he said.
The Ambassador said that Germany has an abundance of experience in providing technical expertise on reconstruction of disaster-hit infrastructure since the country had tackled situations of river rising and flooding.
On Indo-German development co-operation, Dr Ney said that Germany has always supported India on development and India has responded well to the German initiatives.
The 'Water Metro' project involves 15 identified routes connecting 41 boat piers/jetties across 10 island communities (about 500,000 inhabitants) with a 76 km route network.
The project is proposed to be fully operational by 2020.
On projects involving German co-operation with Kerala in the field of energy,he said the study on floating solar sites in Kerala (Karapuzha Reservoir and Malamphuza Dam) was in the final stages and the results would be available soon.
"Germany stands ready to support Kerala with financing for the implementation of such floating solar plants, if needed.
Germany is also keen to support Kerala's ambitious solar rooftop programme, which is currently under preparation by providing the necessary financing at concessional terms as well as related capacity development," Dr Ney said.
In Environment and Natural Resources, KfW would support implementation of a project on 'Watershed Development for Rehabilitation of Degraded Soils and Climate Change Adaption', starting from 2019.
This Rs 40 crore (5 million Euro) grant funded project is a part of the German Initiative 'One World, No Hunger'.It will help reduce vulnerability to climate change of small-scale farmers in selected 43 watersheds through stabilisation, enhancement and sustainable use of soil and water resources.
During his meeting with the Governor, Dr Ney said that the Euros 90 million aid was to set up a climate and disaster resilience unit within the Public Works (Roads and Bridges) Department, strengthening the GIS, Planning, e-governance cell, the Raj Bhavan release said.
The Governor discussed the possibility of improving cooperation in Tourism, to which Ambassador responded very "positively", the release said.
Kerala had suffered massive devastation during the deluge that had claimed 493 lives during the South West Monsoon.
The Union Government had Thursday decided to give Rs 3,048 crore as additional assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund against the state's plea for Rs 4,700 crore as compensation for the damage caused by the floods.