A large number of Malayalis may face deportation
The State government is awaiting a formal communication from the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia on the number of Malayali workers who had been hit by Nitaqat, the Saudization programme that ended on March 27.
“We hope to get a clear picture on how many Keralites had been hit by next week. It is an intensive process and raids have commenced. The initial reports from the Saudi kingdom are that the situation is not alarming,’’ a top official of NoRKA-Roots told The Hindu.
It is feared that hundreds of Keralites will have to leave on their own or face deportation if the Nitaqat launched by the Saudi Labour Ministry to create job opportunities for its nationals by replacing a small percentage of the foreign workforce with Saudi youths is executed in letter and spirit.
Expatriate workers form one-third of Saudi population. As per reports, 20 lakh expatriate workers, majority being Indians, would have to leave the kingdom as the companies and businesses they work for have failed to comply with the programme launched in 2011.
Among the Indians working in Saudi Arabia, Keralites are the largest group. Associations working for the welfare of Keralites working in Gulf countries said that Non-Resident Keralites from the Malabar region and working in the Saudi Kingdom would be the worst-hit. But, the State government nor the NoRKA-Rooots has any idea on the exact number of Keralites working abroad, especially in the Gulf countries.
Minister for Culture and Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs K.C. Joseph said that a survey would be carried out soon with the help of local bodies and other agencies to collect comprehensive information about the Keralites working abroad, including women.
As per the Kerala Migration Monitoring Survey 2011 carried out by Centre for Development Studies, 2,28,0543 Keralites are working abroad. Of them, 5,74,739 are in Saudi Arabia, 8,83,313 in the United Arab Emirates, 1,95,300 in Oman, 1,27,782 in Kuwait, 1,01,556 in Bahrain and 1,48,427 in Qatar, and 6,696 in other West Asian countries.