Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is all set to receive Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) stranded in US, Europe and Gulf countries who are being brought back from Thursday, May 7, 2020. More than four lakh NRKs have registered themselves with the NORKA so far.
There is, however, divergence over the number of Keralites being brought back. While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is on record that 1,70,000 Keralites are in urgent need of being brought back, the Centre has agreed to repatriate only 80,000 Keralites. Obviously, the Centre feels that the list submitted by the Kerala Government is on the high side. Preference is being given to pregnant women, students, the jobless and those whose visas have expired.
Air India will start operating flights from Thursday as part of the mega exercise to bring back Indians stranded across the globe. Each flight is expected to bring back only 200 passengers in view of the norms governing social distancing. Kerala CM has also opined that before being put on the planes, the passengers need to be screened for covid-19.
Two ships have also been sent to Dubai and Maldives as part of the exercise. As against the capacity of 200 of the planes, a ship can accommodate as many as 800 passengers. Indian Navy is on the job in right earnest.
The returnees will be required to undergo medical screening on arrival. A one-week quarantine is a must for them at Government-arranged centres. At the end of the quarantine, they will have to go for another test to establish whether they have contracted covid-19. If the tests prove negative, they will be allowed to go home where they will remain in isolation for another week. If the tests are positive, they will be sent to government hospitals for further treatment.
The State Government has taken over 4,000 houses and 8,000 rooms to cater to the need of the expatriates. They will be sent to these houses and accommodated in the rooms, if necessary, for isolation and observation purposes.
Over 14,500 Migrant Workers in Kerala Return Home
Meanwhile an estimated 14, 500 migrant workers in the state have returned to their home states so far. As many as 14 trains have taken the migrants to Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand so far. A few trains had to be cancelled following the reluctance of the home states to receive the migrants. The confusion seems to have been cleared since, and the process of transporting the migrants to their respective home states is on in right earnest.
The migrants have returned in a happy mood as their long-standing demand for being sent back home has been conceded. And the migrants have lavished praise on the people of Kerala, doctors, nurses, health staff besides the State Government and the Chief Minister for the manner in which they have been taken care of. And most of them have also promised to be back as soon as conditions return to normalcy.
It may be mentioned that Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan was among the first CMs to demand special trains for the transportation of immigrant workers to their home states. The Home Ministry initially voiced its reservations on their return. But it relented later in the face of pressure from various states.
The Chief Minister has now asked for special trains to be arranged for the return of Keralites stranded in other states. The step follows allegations by the opposition that the State Government has not taken adequate steps to ensure return of the Malayalees stranded in other states.
Significantly in Kerala, the last three days have reported only three positive cases as against 61 recoveries. In another development, four districts have been declared Covid-free.