Only 10 percent Keralites among Indians registered in Saudi: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, May 13 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Monday thanked Saudi Arabia for considering the Indian government’s requests on implementation of new labour laws there, but expressed concern about the low percentage of Keralites among the 65,000 Indians now registered with the Indian mission.

“What we have been told by the Indian embassy is that all Indians, who do not have proper documents for staying there, should register before July 1. Residents from Uttar Pradesh lead the list and surprisingly the list contains just 10 percent from Kerala,” said Chandy while addressing editors from media houses here.

“We are, in a way, a bit baffled with the figures that just 10 percent Keralites have registered and the deadline ends on July 1. Hence I have asked State Minister for Non Residents Keralites K.C. Joseph to visit Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah and meet up with all Kerala-based organisations to see that all those who do not have proper documents get themselves registered,” he said.

Chandy also took a barb at the local media saying it had reported that more than a lakh people from Malappuram district alone will return because of the new labour rules in Saudi Arabia.

Joseph later told IANS that he expects to be there in Saudi Arabia by the second week of June and will aim to get as many Keralites who do not have proper documents get registered with the Indian mission so as to get a valid legal status.

“The Saudi authorities should be thanked for their kind approach and they agreed to the requests put up by the Indian team led by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.

“They have said that anyone who returns from Saudi Arabia will have no bar on seeking employment in other Middle Eastern countries and they have also agreed to allow people who currently do not have a sponsor there to find a new one,” said Joseph.

The Indian embassy in Riyadh last week asked Indian workers in the kingdom to either regularise their stay or return to India in view of the new labour policy in that country.

Saudi Arabia is implementing the Nitaqat or Saudisation policy, which makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 percent of jobs for Saudi nationals.

The Saudi government has announced an amnesty period for expatriate workers to either get their residency status regularised or leave the country.

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