Kerala govt considers rehabilitation project for Gulf returnees
The Kerala government will soon convene a meeting of the members of non-resident Keralites affairs (NORKA) department and other concerned officials in order to expand the welfare schemes for non-resident Keralites and introduce more incentives to them, said Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI-M), Kerala.
“The Kerala government is planning to reform the Pravasi Welfare Board with the introduction of more attractive incentives and benefits for non-resident Keralites,” he said addressing a meet-the-press program prior to an interactive session with Indian community leaders in Farwaniya on Saturday.
Balakrishnan, who arrived in Kuwait to attend a Renaissance Conference’ organized by Kerala Art Lovers’ Association’s (KALA), Kuwait, said the state government is proposing to establish legal cells in Gulf countries with the help of the central government in order to provide legal assistance to Keralites who are facing legal cases in their resident countries. “These legal cells can be attached to the respective Indian embassies in these countries,” he said.
Similarly, the Kerala government is also working on a mechanism to simplify the procedure of repatriation of the bodies of Keralites who pass die abroad.
Talking about the proposed project initiated by the Kerala government to rehabilitate Gulf returnees, Balakrishnan said, the government is still formulating a viable project for the rehabilitation of the Gulf returnees in consultations with various Malayali organizations in the Gulf. NORKA-ROOTS has already started registration of Keralites who return from overseas for implementation of various welfare schemes and formulating policies for their rehabilitation.
Balakrishnan said the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala has launched a ‘Green Kerala Mission’ on December 8, which is a multidimensional development project focusing on sanitation, water conservation, environmental protection and paddy cultivation. “We conceive this mission as a people’s initiative with their active involvement from grassroots level,” he said.
He said the government will identify 1,000 schools in the state in order to develop them into schools of international standards. “Our objective is to provide quality education to all. We will create 44,000 smart classrooms in two years’ time,” he said. Balakrishnan admitted that around 450,000 people in Kerala are homeless. “The state government will provide houses to all these people in a span of five years,” he said.
Talking about the grave issue of currency ban by the central government and its immediate impact on Kerala, he said, the state will witness a dip of 40 percent of its revenues this year following the currency crisis. “All sectors are reeling from its impact, be it agriculture or small industry. Tax collection has been seriously affected. There is a moratorium on loan. Cooperative sector is the worst affected by the ill-conceived policy of the central government and the Supreme Court has intervened in this matter,” he said. He called on the central government to announce a package for state governments to tide over the crisis situation.
Reacting to a report that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan was prevented by Madhya Pradesh state police from attending a conference in Bhopal, Balakrishnan said, ‘it is a despicable act that reflects the vehement intolerance of the BJP government in the state. It is for the first time in the history of India that a chief minister was prevented from attending a function in another state. It is a blatant violation of the federal system and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has failed in discharging his constitutional obligation,” he said.