THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The arrival of Covid-19 had raised fears of the remittance-dependent economy of Kerala, which is already under severe stress, suffering a jolt through reverse migration. However, data available with the NoRKA Roots Department and Airport Authority of India indicates that such fears might be unfounded.
The numbers show there is steady emigration – both fresh and repeat - to overseas destinations from Kerala amid the pandemic.
As per data available with NoRKA Roots on July 3, 2021, as many as 15,01,326 persons came back to Kerala since the outbreak of the pandemic via evacuation flights, private chartered flights, and flight services under the air-bubble agreement between various countries. Of this, 10,73,673 returnees cited job loss as the reason for their return to Kerala.
The traffic, though, was not all one way. Airport Authority of India stats that during the May 2020–May 2021 period, as many as 28,40,303 people boarded flights to various destinations from the four airports in Kerala.
S Irudaya Rajan, chairman of the International Institute of Migration and Development, said, "First of all, I don't think the 15 lakh people who returned to Kerala were overseas job seekers. Of the 15 lakh who reached here, around 10 lakh people were original emigrant workers and the rest of them were their dependents like children, spouses, parents etc. In my analysis, close to 50 per cent of them had already returned to their job destinations when the flight services resumed, while around 30 per cent are getting ready to fly back once the air restrictions are eased."
Similarly, the 28 lakh air passengers who flew from here included the people who were left stranded by the first lockdown, and stuck tourists, transit passengers and passengers from neighbouring states etc.
"A detailed study is required to assess the actual number of people who returned and to find out how many of them had gone back to their job destinations and what is the status of those remaining. Moreover, I don't think the pandemic will give a severe jolt to the emigration from Kerala,” he said.
CEO of NoRKA Roots Harikrishnan Namboothiri K said, "The figures indicate that a good number of people who returned here from various destinations have now gone back. Now we are in the process analyzing the real picture of the re-migration, fresh migration and reverse migration etc by juxtaposing these stats."
Numbers that tell the tale
Returnee Status as on 03.07.2021
Country No. of Returnees
Reason for Return
1 Loss of Job ** - 1073673
2 Others (including visa expiry) - 296240
3 Children below 10 years - 84154
4 Senior citizens - 30704
5 Pregnant women - 13641
6 Spouse of pregnant women - 2914
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