Amnesty-seekers line up outside Shahama centre in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Officials have urged amnesty-seekers who want to leave the country to buy open air tickets. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The South Indian state of Kerala has appointed four representatives in the UAE to offer free air tickets to Keralites who are going back home after availing of the ongoing visa amnesty.

“They will do the needful to arrange the flight tickets for the needy Keralites,” a senior Kerala Government official told Gulf News on phone from India on Tuesday.

“If people are coming in groups, we will arrange transportation from airport to their homes. It can be considered case-to-case basis,” said Harikrishnan Namboothiri, CEO of Norka-Roots, a public sector undertaking under Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (Norka).

Police providing water to amnesty-seekers waiting outside the Shahama centre’s tent. Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

As Gulf News reported on July 31, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced the free air tickets for Keralites returning under the amnesty scheme. He also called upon the various Kerala organisations in the UAE to facilitate for those who wish to avail this amnesty.

Namboothiri said the primary contact point for this initiative is Kochukrishnan, a director of Kerala Pravasi Welfare Board under the Kerala Government, and other three are members of Loka Kerala Sabha (LKS), a common platform constituted by the government for Keralites living across the globe.

Asked whether the government will fund the air tickets, he said: “It is immaterial who will fund the ticket. The four representatives will arrange the tickets in coordination with Norka-Roots officials [such as vice-chairpersons and directors who are also prominent businessmen in the UAE] and others.”

Supervisor Mohammad Al Kaabi gives instructions to a family at the amnesty tent in Shahama. Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

The official made it clear that no Keralite will suffer without getting an air ticket. “We will make it sure that everyone [availing of amnesty] returns safely and comfortably,” Namboothiri said.

Asked how many Keralites are expected to return home, he said it was too early to make any estimate. However, the indications received from community organisations suggested that at least 100 people may be there, the official said.

More than a million Keralites constitute the largest Indian expatriate community in the UAE.

A study report published in 2014 by migration expert S. Irudayarajan of the Centre for Development Studies here points out that 90 per cent of Kerala’s 2.3 million diaspora are in various Middle East countries, of which the UAE accounts for 38.7 per cent followed by Saudi Arabia with 25.2 per cent.

Kerala Government representatives in UAE

Kochukrishnan (primary contact), Mob: 00971555396862, email: krishnank299@gmail.com

K.B. Murali, Mob: 00971506679690, email: murali.karayil@gmail.com

Mohammad Fiaz, Mob: 00971503418825, email: mohamed.faiz@gmail.com

Biju Soman, Mob: 00971504820656, email: somanbiju@hotmail.com