Qatar blockade to hit immigrants from TS, AP hard

Updated - June 07, 2017 08:18 am IST

Published - June 06, 2017 09:54 pm IST - Hyderabad

The two States have contributed 30,000 labourers for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup construction work.

The two States have contributed 30,000 labourers for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup construction work.

Stalled travel, peaked living costs and diminished employment opportunities. That’s what 2 lakh immigrants from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have in store, thanks to Gulf Cooperation Council’s blockade and boycott of Qatar announced on June 5. The twin states account for 33 per cent of Indian immigrants in Qatar.

A total of 43,000 people from the two States who were expected to travel from Doha to Hyderabad after Ramzan in the months of June, July and August will now have to reschedule their trips or cancel altogether as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will not fly their airlines to Qatar or allow connecting flights from Doha to fly over their territory. Most immigrants travel to Hyderabad once in two years for a leave period of 45 days. Living in Qatar is also expected to get dearer with the blockade imposed on exports to Qatar from GCC Countries. As much as 95 per cent Telugu immigrants in Qatar are blue collar workers who earn between ₹10,000 and ₹25,000 (570 to 1,430 Qatar Riyals) per month.

Speaking to The Hindu from Sanaya Industrial Area of Doha, G. Ravi a concrete pump technician who has been living in Qatar for seven years said if the crisis deepens, he will have to shell out 920 Qatar Riyals more than his original airfare which was 600 Riyals on Air Arabia, which flies via Sharjah, Saudi Arabia. A difference of ₹16,100 one way. “Direct flights to Hyderabad are very expensive. Cheap ones Air Arabia or Fly Dubai cannot be accessed any more, Mr. Ravi said in the telephonic interview. Most blue-collar labourers spend less than ₹20,000 on round trip to India. Those who opt for extended stay will incur additional food and living costs. “Markets here are flooded and the monthly spending of 228-300 Riyals will go up as people have started hoarding already,” Ravi said.

Labour, house-maids hit

In the past three years, Telugu states had contributed an additional workforce of 30,000 labourers to man Qatar’s 2022 World Cup constructions. “Those who went as World Cup labourers had done so quickly without back-up resources. Most of them also had to surrender their passports to employers. They will have to stay back even if the conflict deepens as they will not get exit permits,” said M. Bhim Reddy of Migrant Rights Council. Immigrants to GCC Countries contribute an average ₹1,000 crore per month to the economy of Telangana and AP, Mr. Reddy added.

Other than construction labourers, Telugu women house-helps who account for 25 per cent of the immigrants to Qatar will suffer the most as they will not be able to take up jobs in other countries including Saudi Arabia, Mr. K. Ranjith Kumar, President of Pravasi Mazdoor Union, Hyderabad said. Meanwhile, Non-Resident Indian Cell which inspects labour issues reported no concerned calls from Qatar 24-hours after the GCC débâcle.

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