Shashi Tharoor, @ShashiTharoor – MP for Thiruvananthapuram:
- Had an excellent interaction with NRIs in the Gulf yesterday. One major wish is that Kerala must bring back all registered Pravasis asap so that before the rains start early June & viruses spread, Kerala can be back to normal. Otherwise we will face a health & economic disaster.
- To do this @CMOKerala must talk to the central Govt & get @airindiain, local airlines & naval ships to offer many services daily to finish repatriation in the next 20 days.
- They should not charge poor blue collar workers, many of whom have not been paid for a month, for this either.
- It was bad enough that poor migrant workers within India were charged to return home when they didn’t even have money to eat. Doing the same to poor pravasis whose remittances kept our economy afloat in hard times would add insult to injury. Yet that’s what the Govt intends to do.
- It’s also wrong to restrict repatriation only to “essential” or emergency cases. Let everyone who needs to come back for whatever reason do so. Returning home is a human right for any Indian citizen. Other democracies have accepted this principle in evacuating their nationals.
- If in initial flights, priorities have to be observed, pravasi reps have asked for people w/mental & physical disabilities to be included in high priority lists. Also insisting on Covid-free certification is neither practical nor necessary since arrivals must be isolated anyway.
- For the indigent, if the StateGovt can pay 50% of the fare, there are NRK volunteer organizations like OICC/INCAS &KMCC who can cover the remaining 50%.
- If Centre refuses to waive charges, State Government should use this method of covering 50% of the ticket fare+ seek donations.
- One special problem: pregnant women w/tickets to travel home in March for delivery May/June are disallowed on commercial flights w/late-stage pregnancy.
- NRIs have appealed to CentralGovt to arrange a special “medical flight”for pregnant women who cannot afford to deliver abroad.
Pic Credit: @ShashiTharoor