Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the Kerala diaspora opting for the amnesty scheme announced by the UAE government will be flown back to India for free.
In a statement, Vijayan said the amnesty scheme starts from August 1 to October 31 and can be availed by all those who wish to return from UAE to Kerala.
"Those who wish to apply for it should get in touch with nine centres that will be opened there. The state-run Roots-Norka will coordinate for the smooth return and all will be brought for free and safely. The first batch of arrivals will take place in the middle of August," said Vijayan.
Norka resident vice-chairman K. Varadarajan told Khaleej Times that they would provide free air tickets to Keralites availing of the amnesty. "The air tickets are expensive during this season and we understand many people won't be able to afford it. So our first priority is to make sure that expats can return home safely.”
The amnesty scheme is for the benefit of all those who are in UAE but do not have valid papers and over the years, this scheme has come to the aid of several people who live "illegally" in the UAE, due to various reasons.
"We do not have an estimate of the total number of people who would avail of the amnesty. Our rough estimate is that around Rs3 million (Dh160,600) would be needed for air tickets alone. We are allocating a special budget to sponsor the air tickets," Varadarajan added.
Vijayan also called upon the various Kerala organisations in the UAE to facilitate for those who wish to avail this amnesty.
The study report published in 2014 by migration expert S. Irudayarajan of the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram points out that 90 per cent of Kerala's 23.63 lakh diaspora are in various Middle-East countries, of which UAE accounts for 38.7 per cent followed by Saudi Arabia with 25.2 per cent.
With IANS inputs