In an indication that a large number of expatriates from Kerala are looking to return in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2 lakh people living in various countries have registered their names with the state government’s Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department (NORKA ROOTS) in one day.
Following the state government’s announcement that expatriates who are stranded abroad and want to return may register themselves, NORKA ROOTS started the registration process on Sunday evening.
Government sources said a major chunk of those who have registered themselves are from the Middle East. Registrations have also been made from the US, the UK and Russia.
Kerala has been persistently demanding from the Centre that expatriates stranded abroad due to the cancellation of flights be brought back. Elaborate arrangements have been made in the state to quarantine the returnees for 28 days, either at isolation centres or at their homes.
To quarantine expatriates, who are expected to arrive in batches, around 2 lakh rooms have been identified and 1.24 of them are ready to be occupied.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Monday that among the expatriates, there are people from low-income groups, those staying at labour camps and students who used to earn through part-time jobs. “The Prime Minister was requested that Centre should bear the flight charges… Those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown have to be rehabilitated and the Centre should announce a package. Schemes should be formed to make use of their expertise,’’ he said.
Vijayan said they have told the PM that those who require treatment, those who went abroad for a short visit and those who have no means of livelihood be brought back on priority. “Our top priority is that the pravasis should remain safe’’ he said.
Vijayan said the government would also take steps to bring back those stranded in other states due to the lockdown. A registration process for those who are stranded in other states and want to return to Kerala will begin on Wednesday, he said, adding that quarantine would be mandatory for all those who come back.