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Hassan takes up expatriates' problems

DUBAI, MARCH 10 . The Minister for Non-Resident Keralites' Affairs, M.M. Hassan, today claimed that his visit to the Gulf had helped in solving several job-related problems of the large expatriate community. The Minister said he had taken up their issues with the local authorities.

During a three-day visit to the Qatari capital Doha, Mr. Hassan, who heads the Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NoRKA), said that he had raised the problems of the expatriates as Indian Ambassadors were often bound by several limitations and Central Government officials rarely visited the region.

He said his intervention had helped solve the law-and-order problem affecting Keralites in a particular locality in Kuwait where the local authorities had now taken measures by posting security personnel, Doha's The Peninsula quoted him as saying.

In a similar case, the Labour Minister of Bahrain had decided to appoint inspectors to check facilities at labour camps in response to a plea made by Mr. Hassan to improve their living standards.

Mr. Hassan said he would discuss similar issues during a meeting with the Qatar Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Housing, Sheikh Falah Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, later today.

Citing two recent NoRKA achievements, Mr. Hassan said a certificate attestation centre for Gulf job seekers has been set up in Thiruvanathapuram forcing the Central Government to lift regulations compelling Gulf job-seekers to deposit Rs. 35,000 for emigration clearance.

"The flow of Keralites to the Gulf had virtually stopped for a couple of months following this regulation. When something is achieved, they tend to forget it and seize a new issue," he lamented.

Mr Hassan said he was keeping his hopes of a budget airline alive and said he was pursuing the plan to launch a Gulf-Kerala ferry service. Discussions were on with a Saudi-based company that has proposed to start a Dammam-Dubai-Kochi ferry service.

A delegation from the company would soon visit Kerala to inspect the facilities at the Kochi port, Mr. Hassan said.

The Minister said the recent reduction announced by Air-India and Indian Airlines in their Gulf-Kerala fares was "nominal" and too inadequate to meet the expectations of Keralite expatriates.

Protest against airlines

Indian organisations in Oman today issued a fresh call to abstain from travelling on the national carriers, Indian Airlines and Air-India, to protest against their `exorbitant' airfares.

In the first phase, they would stop travelling for a day or a week on the dates to be finalised and then extend the boycott to other airlines, The Times of Oman has reported quoting the organisers.

Over 500 community members turned up for a meeting to take pledge that they would refuse to fly on airlines charging high fares to Indian destinations.

A similar protest programme of the Indian expatriate community in the Gulf had fizzled out last week. _ UNI

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