The government will launch a massive evacuation operation for Indians who lost jobs in Saudi Arabia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament on Monday.
The minister said the government will also try and ensure that their salary dues are cleared.
Making a statement in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Sushma said her ministry was working out the modalities with the Saudi government to to get the stranded Indians, who are in dire financial condition, back home.
According to estimates, about 10,000 Indians have been affected by the economic downturn in Saudi Arabia and have been staying in camps.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will visit Saudi Arabia to work out the logistics.
Sushma told Parliament: “Not a single Indian worker, who is unemployed will remain hungry. This is my assurance to the country through Parliament… We will bring all of them back to India.”
She said the Saudi government has agreed to allow India to evacuate its citizens without the mandatory No objection Certificate (NoC) from the employers. “Since their employers have fled, who will grant them NoC? We have asked the Saudi government to authorise us to evacuate Indians (who have lost their jobs),” Sushma said.
She said the government has also asked the Saudi Labour Office to pay the salaries of the workers through the dues owed by the Saudi government to their employers. Members in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha expressed concern over the fate of the stranded Indians.
The minister said she was receiving hourly updates on their status. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and several Opposition MPs lauded Sushma’s efforts.
“She has done everything, No one could have done so much work,” the Speaker said.
DH News Service
New Delhi may invoke agreement
With thousands of Indians losing jobs in Saudi Arabia, New Delhi is likely to invoke its agreement with Riyadh to seek intervention of the government of the kingdom, DHNS reports from New Delhi.
New Delhi is relying on the agreement with Riyadh on labour cooperation to seek the intervention of the Saudi Arabian government to help over 10,000 Indian workers, whohave been rendered jobless in the kingdom due to fall in oil prices and economic downturn.
Prodded by India, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development of Saudi Arabia has already initiated legal proceedings against the Saudi Oger Limited — a construction company — which had not been paying wages to its workers for several months, but also stopped providing meals to them. The affected workers include 2,450 Indians, living in five camps in Jeddah, Mecca and Taif. Riyadh, according to the sources, conveyed to New Delhi that the Saudi Oger Limited will be subjected to legal proceedings and will have to pay fines for violating the Wage Protection Laws of the kingdom.
Besides, according to the reports received in New Delhi, 3,172 Indian workers living in Riyadh had not been paid their wages for several months, though they were still getting regular rations.
Sources in New Delhi said that Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar, has been liaising with the Saudi Arabian government to ensure that the claims of all the laid-off Indian workers, who had not been paid wages, could lodge complaints and their claims were processed in accordance with the laws. He also sought the Saudi Arabian government’s assistance in arranging exit visa for all Indian workers who wish to be repatriated.