Foreign workers pull their luggage along a street in Riyadh November 4, 2013. The streets of the Saudi capital Riyadh were unusually quiet on Monday as many expatriates stayed at home to avoid the start of a government crackdown on illegal foreign workers. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT SOCIETY IMMIGRATION) Image Credit: REUTERS

Thiruvananthapuram: More than 134,000 Indian workers have returned from Saudi Arabia after the kingdom enforced stricter labour regulations, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters here, Ravi said the Indian government is closely watching the situation and providing all possible help to the affected people.

“Some 1.34 lakh [134,000] Indians have already come back from Saudi Arabia,” Ravi said, adding the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia is facilitating the return of the workers who do not have proper documents.

Ravi said there is no harassment and Saudi authorities are not entering into the houses of Indian diaspora for physical checks.

“Saudi Arabian government has given specific instructions not to harass people but to check properly and not enter any house,” the minister said.

Saudi Arabia recently introduced a new policy called Nitaqat (classification) that seeks to remove illegal immigrants and boost employment for locals by reserving 10 per cent of jobs for them in all establishments.

Meanwhile, Kerala government said it will charter flights to facilitate the return of its people from Saudi Arabia.

Addressing reporters here, K.C. Joseph, minister for Kerala diaspora, said the three regional committees of Roots-Norka (state organisation of the non-resident Keralites) based in Saudi Arabia are preparing a list of those who will have to be brought back.

“At the moment we are planning for the flights from there to the three Kerala airports and by November 10 the picture would be clear about how many people need to be brought back,” Joseph said.

The minister said only 13,714 people had returned up to Monday, contrary to reports of a mass exodus from Saudi Arabia from April 4 (when the amnesty came into force).

“While 80 people returned Monday, the number is just 21 Tuesday. We have been told that the Saudi authorities’ only aim was to regularise the stay of migrants and it was not meant to reduce the numbers,” Joseph said.

According to the first ever state government sponsored survey conducted recently, 88 per cent of the 1.63 million Kerala diaspora lives in the Middle East and the UAE leads with 573,289 people followed by 450,229 in Saudi Arabia.