THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state and central governments are issuing contradictory statements on repatriation of Kerala's expats and also on the length of quarantine they will need, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged on Wednesday.
Chennithala's statements come at a time when 93 non-resident Keralites (NRKs) have succumbed to COVID-19 in foreign countries, with the most deaths reported from the UAE (40) and the US (33).
It also comes a day after the Centre announced the Vande Bharat Mission, an operation that will bring back 14800 Indians with compelling needs through flights operated by Air India and its subsidiaries.
Spelling out the compelling needs, central government sources had said only those awaiting deportation, migrant workers who have been laid off, people on short-term visas, those with medical emergencies, pregnant women and old persons, those with deaths in their near family and students whose educational institutions have shut, will be allowed to board the flights.
"The focus is on the Gulf countries as around 9 million Indians are there. We have received registrations from 3 lakh people from the region alone. Also, the region has a lot of people who have been laid off. Hence the process, in its first phase, will concentrate on this region," said a source.
Chennithala blamed the State Government for not being able to shed clarity on the repatriation plans as well as on quarantining.
While talking to reporters on Wednesday, Chennithala also alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is resorting to political games by declining to accept the Rs 50 lakh cheque handed over by five District Congress Committees' to pay the rail fare of migrant labourers.
The opposition leader said the State and central Governments have suggested seven and 14 days quarantine respectively for expats, thereby causing confusion.
He said first Pinarayi Vijayan came up with a confusing statement, then Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan muddied waters further.
"At this difficult time when the State and central Governments should be working together, they are coming up with contradictary statements causing confusion among the expatriates. CM's daily briefing has evolved in to a cultural programme," said Chennithala.
He added that Malayalis stranded in other States during the lockdown have been at the receiving end with no means to return via train or bus. Those people who reach the borders on their own are also facing difficulties as the passes are not being issued by the district collectors on time.
Chennithala took the opportunity to rue the fact that not much has changed in the last four years with zero development happening.
"Pinarayi is resorting to cheap political games and the people have realised it. Even if PR agencies write down the matter for his daily briefings, his haughtiness is not going to subside," Chennithala added.