Abu Dhabi: Expatriates from the south Indian state of Kerala have welcomed their governments’ announcement on Thursday to sponsor the repatriation costs of mortal remains of Keralite residents to the state.

The state finance minister Thomas Isaac said in his annual budget speech in the state legislature that the Department of Non Resident Keralites Affairs (Norka) will bear the repatriation costs of expatriates’ bodies from abroad.

Although he did not elaborate on the mechanism, Norka is expected to announce the details in the coming days.

Welcoming the move, a forum of expatriates from Kerala said the government should implement it at the earliest. “We also welcome the new welfare scheme announced for the Non-Resident Keralites,” said a statement issued by the forum’s leaders, including Ashraf Thamarassery, a well-known social worker who has helped repatriation of thousands of bodies.

K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust in Sharjah, welcomed the announcement and said many other Indian states have already appreciated Kerala government’s welfare measures for its diaspora.

Incas, a Dubai-based social organisation, appreciated the government’s promise and said it should be implemented in a transparent manner. “The government should bear the entire costs of the repatriation,” said an Incas statement issued by Mahadevan Vazhassery, president; and Punnakken Mohammad Ali, general secretary.