Over 2 lakh non-residents sign up to return to Kerala on day registration opens

Published : April 27, 2020 21:19 IST

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. A file picture. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Nearly 2,02,000 non-resident Keralites have signed up for returning home on the very first day a registration facility for them was launched by the Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs through its field agency, NORKA-Roots, on April 26.

The State government has made it clear that registration does not mean all those who have registered will be immediately brought back and that the priority is for people who are facing the most severe difficulties. They will have to undergo a COVID-19 medical test before their travel, but this is not a necessary condition for registration.

“The State Government believes that those returning to India will get medical clearance for travel at the country of origin itself. The modalities for it are to be decided by the Government of India. Once they reach airports in Kerala, they will be subjected to medical screening. Those with any symptoms of the disease will be sent to special quarantine facilities. Others will have to confine themselves at home as part of the home quarantine measures. They will be sent to their homes directly from the airport. The State will also be ready with medical inspection facilities when these people start arriving in large numbers. We have requested the Centre that we need more equipment and other materials for this,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said after his daily COVID assessment meeting on Monday.

“The most important problem that Kerala faces as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown is that of our people in other countries. Their safety is our priority. We are constantly working to bring them back. We hope such efforts would soon bear fruit,” he said.

Those coming back home have been asked to choose the airport nearest to their home while booking tickets. The government will provide sufficient facilities for medical examination and quarantining of people in all four airports in the State. NORKA help desks have started functioning in all major centres.

The State Government has also formulated special steps to bring back Keralites who have been stuck in other parts of India following the lockdown. They are also to be brought back “stage by stage”, based on a priority decided by the State government.

Those wanting to return to Kerala from other States will also have to register themselves through the NORKA website. Registration will begin from Wednesday. Details and modalities for their return are to be announced by NORKA soon.

“Several Keralites are now trapped in other States because of the lockdown. They include students, businessmen, those who travelled out for work or to visit close relatives, those who went for short-term training and several others. We understand that the situation is very difficult for many of them. Among them there are people who are not getting proper food, and those who were asked to leave their hostels or hotels. We will bring them back. Registration will start on Wednesday. NORKA will provide the details later on,” the Chief Minister said.

Those that are to be given priority while returning to their home State are: Keralites who went to other States for medical treatment and those who completed their treatment; people living in other States who had registered and had been given dates for speciality treatment in Kerala; students who completed their studies in other States; those who went to other places for writing examinations or participating in interviews; those who went on a pilgrimage, on leisure travel and for visiting relatives in other States; Keralite students in educational institutions that have been closed down; those who need to come back because they lost their job or have retired from service; and those who went for agriculture work in neighbouring States, especially those from Wayanad, Malappuram and Kannur districts now trapped in Kodagu in Karnataka.

“A large number of people from Kerala work in the fields of neighbouring States growing ginger and banana crops on land taken for lease. Most of them are poor and belong to tribal communities and they have lost everything and have no money in hand. Many are finding it difficult to get food. There are many in similar situations in all neighbouring States. District collectors have been asked to prepare special projects to bring them back,” the Chief Minister said.

All necessary medical precautions will be taken when they are brought back. They will be subjected to examinations by the health department at all border points. They will be required to undergo quarantine also. All the precautionary measures required to be followed in the case of return of people from abroad will be applicable to those coming back from other States, he said

The Kerala Government will soon announce designated entry points through which people thus returning from other parts of India can enter the State.

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