: The Labour Department will provide all support to private hospital nurses and other employees for filing claim petitions to secure the minimum wages arrears since 2009, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John has said.

Replying to questions in the Assembly on Thursday, Mr. John said the Labour Department can initiate prosecution proceedings and file claim petitions against private hospitals that have denied minimum wages to employees.

The High Court has stayed prosecution proceedings against the managements. Steps have been taken to vacate the stay. The government can claim only arrears for six months, but individual claims can be submitted for arrears since 2009, when the Minimum Wages Act was implemented. The department will give due support to the staff to file such claims. Minimum wages will be revised from June 1. Of the 705 private hospitals inspected by the Labour Department officials, only 70 hospitals implemented the Minimum Wages Act, he said.

Recruitment of nurses to Latin American and other countries will be expedited through the Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPEC). There was fall in job opportunities for nurses in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, but it had increased in Singapore, Spain and other countries, he said.

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph said locations had been identified to put up 69 shelters for rehabilitating people in the event of a dam-burst at Mullaperiyar. The State government was expecting the Centre to accord clearance for constructing a new dam at Mullaperiyar. The State government's efforts to allay the apprehensions of the people of Tamil Nadu regarding the new dam have had the desired results, he said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said 6,039 suicides and 3,378 man-missing cases had been registered since the United Democratic Front government came to power. As many as 515 public property destruction cases have been registered and 1,029 accused have been arrested too. The police have registered 8,405 women harassment, 973 child harassment cases.

Health Minister Adoor Prakash said there were 643 vacancies of doctors in the State. The posts of 71 civil surgeons, 11 dental assistant surgeons, 31 consultants, three senior consultants, two chief consultants, 299 junior consultants and 226 assistant surgeons remained vacant, he said.