Exempt expat Indian labourers from evacuation charges: PFI

New Delhi: Popular Front of India (PFI), Chairman OMA Salam has asked the Central and state governments to bring back poor migrant India labourers stranded in foreign countries free of cost.  

In a statement Salam said that it is welcoming that finally India has started its evacuation mission for expat Indians stranded in foreign countries. However, it is highly unfortunate that every one of them will have to pay for their flight and subsequent quarantine stay back home. It is noteworthy that low income unskilled labourers constitute majority of the Gulf & Singapore Indian expats population. Most of them are out of work for the last two months due to lockdown and depending on relief workers and government handouts for their survival. Their only hope is the evacuation mission of Indian Government. However, government decision to charge them indiscriminately will be a huge burden on them. 

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Salam lamented that there are already reports that thousands of Indian migrant workers have given up their plans to fly back home on “Vande Bharat” special flights being operated by Air India to evacuate our citizens because they cannot bear expenses for their travel and also pay for their 14-day quarantine on their return. Fortunately philanthropic individuals and organizations have already expressed their willingness to help government. A well coordinated effort can do a lot.

Also, it is to be remembered that India has history of carrying out such operations completely free of cost. The Indian Community Welfare Fund, (ICWF), collected was used for such evacuations in the past hence we demand the fund should be used for the travel and quarantine expenses of poor expats workers, the statement said.

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Popular Front has demanded that Central and state governments should take steps to meet the necessities of expat citizens who are unable to afford their travel expenses.

By Pervez Bari

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