Kerala to give free air tickets to amnesty seekers


Dubai : The Kerala government’s Department of Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs (NORKA) has decided to give free air tickets to needy Indian workers wanting to return to India under an amnesty scheme offered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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“Priority would be given to Keralites and other deserving people,” S.M. Najeeb, the general manager of NORKA, said Monday.

NORKA is working closely with various Malayalee associations in the UAE to provide the air tickets.

In June, the UAE government set a deadline of three months for all illegal foreign workers to either acquire legal status to stay in the country or face deportation.

The Khaleej Times quoted Najeeb as saying that some leading businessmen and organisations have also come forward to sponsor the air tickets.

NORKA was set up by the government of Kerala to ensure the welfare of the non-resident Keralites, redress their grievances and safeguard their rights.

“Those wanting to avail this scheme should submit their documents at the Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajam, Kerala Social Center, Indian Islamic Centre and India Social Centre,” Najeeb said.

Emirates Airlines has already announced that it will offer special discounted fares to amnesty seekers, including Indians. Air India, has also lowered fares for workers wanting to return to India and will operate two additional flights on Aug 19 and 22 to Hyderabad via Mumbai.

The Indian consulate in Dubai has received more than 33,000 applications for emergency certificates from Indian workers.

There are around 1.4 million expatriate Indians in the UAE, many of whom are employed as contract workers. In Dubai alone, Indians comprise over 60 percent of the city’s total population of over 1.4 million.