The Kerala Assembly expressed its concern over the fallout of strict enforcement of ‘Nitaqat’ in Saudi Arabia, but the government made it clear that reports carried by the media in the state on categorisation of expatriate workers were by and large ‘exaggerated and disproportionate.’
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stressed that the hardships faced by Keralite expatriates in Saudi Arabia have already been taken up at the highest level.
He also said, as reported by Express earlier, that the state has urged the Centre to prevail upon Saudi Arabia for a general amnesty of six months.
He assured that in the event of influx of expatriate workers to Kerala, the state will ensure that the Union Government bear all expenses for their return.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, who demanded more proactive measures from the Centre, offered to become part of an all-party delegation to apprise the Centre, if the state government desired so.
Replying to the notice for an adjournment motion of K V Abdul Khader(CPM), the Chief Minister said as a sovereign nation, Saudi Arabia has every right to implement a law. “It may pose hardships for us. We are keen to find a solution through existing cooperation and goodwill between India and Saudi Arabia,” the Chief Minister said.
“Union Minister E Ahmed is already in touch with the Saudi Government and had held talks,” he added.
“Securing a general amnesty period for expatriates to leave Saudi Arabia on their own and finding new sponsors for those working on free visas are on top of the scheme put forward to the Centre to protect the interests of Indian expatriates, apart from a plea not to impose a travel ban,” Chandy said.
Speaker G Karthikeyan, at the outset, urged both treasury and Opposition benches not to engage in a war of attrition. “Our concern towards an issue of great importance to our brethren should be reflected in a diplomatic manner,” he reminded.
The Opposition -- though heeding to the plea of the Chief Minister and NORKA Minister K C Joseph to not blame the Saudi Government over ‘Nitaqat’ and thereby put lakhs of Malayali expatriates working in the Gulf area in a piquant situation -- however kept flaying the Union Government for its alleged callousness in dealing with the issue.