NEW DELHI: Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh is set to leave for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as over 10,000 Indian labourers face economic uncertainty following financial slowdown in the Gulf Kingdom. As the prospects of food crisis looms large, plans are afoot to airlift these labourers home.
Apprising Parliament of the crisis unfolding in the Gulf country with thousands of Indian labourers being laid off without compensation and food supplies, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament that no Indian would go hungry.
Swaraj said that her deputy General (retd) V K Singh would be leaving for Saudi Arabia to undertake yet another evacuation process and resolve the issue faced by the Indian labourers in the country. The government is also in talks with the foreign and labour offices in Saudi Arabia to facilitate an early evacuation.
The labourers have been left in lurch with the employers fleeing the country after shutting down factories and without providing ‘No Objection Certificate’ which is necessary for getting an exit visa. Swaraj informed Parliament that the government has requested the Saudi government to give them exit visas as employers had left the country and also urged it to first clear the dues of workers, who have not been paid for months, whenever they settle the accounts with the companies.
The Indian Consulate in Jeddah, with support from the Indian diaspora, has distributed food to the labourers in distress and the rations is suffice for next 8-10 days. In all, 3,712 Indian workers in Riyadh have not received their salaries for months. And 2,450 labourers of Saudi Oger Company have not been provided with meals since July 25. These labourers have been accommodated in five camps run by the Consular General of India.