More than 10,000 Indian stranded workers got the permission for exit visas from Saudi Arabia government. Minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh’s visited Saudi Arabia last week to render support for jobless, and starved Indian workers struck in the gulf. On the intervention, gulf government agreed to send them with their expenses.
However, according to these penny less workers, a single flight ticket to Delhi will not make everything alright. Thousands are worried about the travel expenses that are needed to reach their respective states after reaching Delhi/Mumbai international airport.
“We don’t have money to travel from the Delhi airport to the railway station, Sir. Then, how will we go to UP?,” questioned Faeem Ahmad, stuck in a labour camp on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia’s Mecca city.
This is the major worry that is not only killing Ahmed from UP but also thousands of other labours struck in the Gulf camps, who are looking to state and central governments to bear the expenses.
Neither the central government nor the state governments are telling us how we could go home after reaching Delhi or Bombay airport,” said Ali, who hails from Uttarakhand.
Ali said to sources that the embassy officials visited his camp and mentioned that they would be flown to India for free, but they will have to bear the cost related to commuting home and every thing there after.
How’s this possible? Most of us have arrears to be cleared. We have been living without a salary for about eight months now. We don’t have a single riyal with us,” Ali said in Hindi.
Sajith A. M., an editor at Arab News, said that, this is a very genuine problem faced by the stranded labours who hail from poor families.
The return to India is a generous move by the Saudi government, so we cannot bargain on the destination airport,” said Sajith.
“But central government can intervene effectively to make sure they reach their home and not just to some Indian airport.” Ideally, the Indian states should get the list of passengers from the embassy and make necessary arrangements to transport the returning workers from where they land to their respective states, he said.
“Following the visit of Honorable Minister of State Gen. V.K. Singh to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi authorities have themselves clarified that they are going to be very prompt in addressing all the humanitarian issues being faced by Indian workers. Instruction has already been issued by the Saudi authorities to maintain cleanliness, provide electricity, water supply and medical facilities at the camps in which the Indians are staying and the food also is now being provided by a Saudi caterer. So, that is the status as far as the humanitarian issues are concerned,” foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters.
He also mentioned that a committee has been set up to look into the issues of arrears of the past months. Within 2-3 days a lawyer will be appointed, and unpaid wages will be filed, will be lodged and will be pursued by the Saudi authorities. He also said that Saudi government is ready to renew the resident permits without fines if they want to continue working there.
On, The last set of issues pertains to repatriation. There the Saudi authorities have conveyed that in case of Indian workers wishes to return to India then they, meaning the Saudi authorities, will make all the necessary arrangements,” Swarup said.
This is high time that Indian government should take a stand to send these wage less workers to reach their homes.