Cash crunch forces many Telangana expats in Persian Gulf to drop travel plans
Many stranded migrant workers from Telangana have backed out from travelling in Vande Bharat special flights because they cannot bear expenses for their travel and pay for their 14-day quarantine on their return to India.
Thousands of migrant workers from Telangana stranded in Persian Gulf countries and desperate to return to home, have backed out from travelling in Vande Bharat special flights being operated by Air India to evacuate Indians from abroad.
They say they are simply not in a position to bear expenses for their travel and also pay for their 14-day quarantine on their return to India.
The first Vande Bharat flight landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Hyderabad late Saturday with 163 people, including two infants from Kuwait. Most of them hail from Hyderabad while some were from Nizamabad and Karimnagar districts.
“Only those who could afford to bear their travel expenses and also for their stay in paid quarantine centres in Hyderabad were brought from Kuwait. Those who cannot have to stay back,” E Chitti Babu, a senior official in-charge of Telangana NRI cell in state secretariat, said.
He said the charges for paid quarantine facilities range from ₹5,000 to ₹30,000 for the 14-day period, depending on the facilities for the NRIs. “For an ordinary accommodation, it is ₹5,000, for a two-star hotel facility, it is ₹15,000 and for three-star accommodation, it is ₹30,000,” he said.
Chitti Babu said a couple of more flights, one from the US and another from the UK, would be bringing stranded Telugus to Hyderabad. “Similarly, some more flights from Abu Dhabi and Dubai would also be operated for the Telangana people,” he said.
But thousands of people, who had gone to the Gulf countries in search of livelihood, are not in a position to return because they are not in a position to bear the expenses.
According to P Basanth Reddy, president of the Hyderabad-based Telangana Gulf Migrants Welfare Association president, many people from Telangana stranded in Kuwait had registered their names with the local authorities for returning to India, but backed out after coming to know that they will have to pay quarantine charges as well.
“Thousands of poor migrant labourers from Telangana, who have been languishing in the Gulf countries like Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain and UAE, have not been getting their wages for months. How can they be expected to bear their own expenses for their return in these present conditions?” Reddy asked.
A migrant worker Ganga Reddy stranded in Dammam in Saudi Arabia told Hindustan Times that the situation in his place was horrible and many people are desperate to return home.
“We are afraid that we might contract Covid-19 and we are desperately looking up to the Telangana government to help us come back,” Reddy, who is from Nizamabad district, said.
Basanth Reddy said his association was trying for sponsors to bring as many as people as possible from the Gulf countries. “We are also helping the families of these migrants back home, as they are in utter poverty,” he said.
All India Congress Committee spokesman Dasoju Sravan demanded that the Telangana government bring back stranded labourers in the Gulf countries free of cost. He said there more than 12-15 lakh workers from Telangana, including both men and women in the Gulf countries.
Many of the labourers are being laid off from their employment due to Covid-19 pandemic. Most of them do not have access to proper livelihood and medical care and are compelled to live in most hazardous conditions and are worried about the spread of Covid-19.
“In these circumstances, the government of Telangana should coordinate and collaborate with central government and bring back whosoever is desirous to return to India at free of cost. It is improper on the part of the government to charge airfares to return to India as the labour is already in most vulnerable situation without income,” Sravan said.
The Telangana NRI cell in-charge, however, ruled out the possibility of the government bearing the travel expenses of the Gulf migrants. “We have no such plans as of now,” Chitti Babu said.
Meanwhile, the returnees from Kuwait were screened thoroughly at every stage in the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport before they were shifted to the quarantine centres of their choice in the early hours of Sunday.
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