Community leaders to get audience with Kerala chief minister

Keralites raise complaints related to government services with a delegation led by senior minister

19:30 September 27, 2017

Abu Dhabi: Expatriates from the South Indian state of Kerala raised their grievances with a visiting minister and legislators in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night.

Leaders of Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) in Abu Dhabi will soon have a chance to raise their grievances directly with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, a senior minister of Kerala government told the community gathering.

A.K. Balan, Minister for Law, Culture and Parliamentary Affairs, and Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, said he would facilitate the meeting with Vijayan and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac at the earliest. The minister gave this assurance after a delegation led by him and consisting of eight Members of [Kerala] Legislative Assembly (MLAs) heard grievances of the community at an event at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening.

“Most of the issues raised here by the community members are resolvable. I have noted down everything,” Balan said. Still he suggested the ISC leaders to make a memorandum detailing all the grievances, which could be formally submitted to the chief minister.

An expat from northern Kerala said he has been going from pillar to post for a permit to construct a house on a plot converted from paddy field, which was banned by certain laws although he was eligible for exemption. The minister assured him to get the permission through the exemptions stipulated in the law.

Requests to lower fare on buses operated by state transport corporation from airports and maintain dilapidated building of a government medical college in northern Kerala were also raised. M. Ummer, an MLA, said he would take them up with the authorities concerned.

Problems related to students’ admissions to schools and colleges in NRI (Non-Resident Indian) quota and Aadhaar (Indian biometric identity card) were also presented. An expatriate from Sharjah said many Keralites who studied in certain private colleges in Kerala were finding it difficult to get equivalency certificate from the UAE for their degrees because of some Indian rules. Two residents said the schools for special needs people they were running in Kerala were facing legal issues, which could be sorted out by the government intervention.

Despite high number of applicants for identity cards issued by Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (NORKA), cards were not delivered on time, an expat said. Many of them demanded to introduce a regular pension scheme and related welfare programmes.

The minister said most of the NRKs were not aware of welfare schemes introduced by the government for them. Under various schemes, the government offers Rs100,000 (Dh5,586) in financial assistance to the family in the event of death of an NRK; up to Rs2 million in loan with subsidised interest rates to start business in Kerala as part of rehabilitation of NRKs; Rs50,000 for those who returned home due to illness etc, he said.

The banks have processed more than 15,000 applications for such loans and 1,800 of the applicants have already availed of them, Balan said. The Kerala State Backward Classes Development Corporation (BCDC), which has offices in all districts of the state, is also offering similar loans.

Sunny Joseph, an MLA, said he felt the question and answer session was like a session in the Kerala legislature. K.B Ganesh Kumar, an MLA, said he was pressing the government to create a proper database of the NRKs.

The delegation also attended an event to inaugurate the UAE chapter of Malayalam Mission, a state government initiative to promote Malayalam language among the NRKs. Balan inaugurated the chapter on Wednesday evening at the Indian Consulate Hall.

ISC welfare wing launches helpline

Grievances of Indian community will be taken up with Indian authorities

Abu Dhabi: Indian expatriates in Abu Dhabi have a new venue to raise their grievances with authorities in India. The welfare wing of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) in Abu Dhabi launched a helpline for the community members to raise their grievances with the authorities in India. Indian residents can call or send WhatsApp messages to mobile number 056-7144744. The ISC will take up the grievances with the authorities in India and follow up the redressal, said Jayachandran Nair, vice-president of the ISC.

— B.A. K