95% of those who came back from Gulf jobless


26,260 passengers have been repatriated to Mumbai from Doha till August 31.

Around 26,260 passengers returned to Mumbai from Doha until August 31, since the start of repatriation efforts shortly after the suspension of international flight operations in India. Around 95 per cent of them returned home after losing their jobs.

Devendra Kumar Jain, appointed as civic officer on special duty, had instructed all 24 ward officers to make arrangements for 150 beds in each ward for these migrants who returned from Gulf and especially Doha and couldn’t afford institutional quarantine in a hotel.

Ward officers provided free accommodation and, if the passengers were unable to make some nominal payment, then they scouted for hotels not charging over Rs 600 per day. Jain told Mirror, “Since these migrants from Gulf are poor and cannot afford to pay the institutional quarantine bills, we have asked 24 wards to make arrangements for 150 beds each. First it was for 14 days, then it was brought down to seven days and now it is for two days. All accommodation and food was for free and they were tested for Covid-19 and sent home. Nearly 1 lakh arrived in Mumbai. Almost all from Gulf, mainly Doha, were unemployed,” said Jain.V Worlikar, who worked as helicopter engineer in Doha told Mirror that he will be going back after six months. “I was stuck during the lockdown and luckily I have been called back with reduced allowances and with exceptional entry permit. We are being called back phase wise,” he said.

Worlikar said a lot of workers from airlines were laid off and labourers who worked on Metro projects also lost their jobs. “The labour class was sent back. Their salaries are low and they were constructing a stadium for 2022 FIFA World Cup. There was ongoing Metro work too,” said Worlikar.

Suhas Chavan, another passenger who arrived from Qatar and is unemployed, said that a WhatsApp group had been formed where they united to provide medical help and ration.

“Those who had to evacuate faster were given priority on medical grounds. Those who lost their jobs and visas expired were forced to leave. There were many contractual labourers and also permanent employees. There were some families of labourers who had to spend nights on footpaths and parking lots but they were rescued and sent back,” said Chavan.

Advocate Godfrey Pimenta said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, many people who have lost their jobs abroad have approached him for guidance. “I conducted an online seminar guiding them on all aspects and how to cope with job loss.”

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