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New welfare centre location easily accessible for distressed Indians in UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on November 1, 2020
Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times

The management of the welfare centre was also taken over by the Indian diplomatic mission from Alankit Assignments Limited.

Our primary priority is to address the needs of distressed blue-collared workers, said Dr Aman Puri, Consul-General of India in Dubai, on Sunday during the opening of the relocated welfare centre for Indian citizens — Pravasi Bhartiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK).

The new centre at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai — relocated from Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) — was officially inaugurated by Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor.

The management of the welfare centre was also taken over by the Indian diplomatic mission from Alankit Assignments Limited. The diplomatic heads said the primary objective of the move was to make the welfare centre more accessible to blue-collared workers and provide services on a ‘slightly broader scale’ and on a more ‘frequent basis’.

“We discussed the matter with the Indian Government to temporarily relocate the centre to somewhere that is more accessible. We realised the facility in JLT was not easily accessible to Indian workers. The consulate has been providing its services to distressed Indians for the last several months. We hope that will be the case at PBSK as well,” said Kapoor.

The welfare centre will continue to provide legal and psychological counselling, through both 24x7 toll-free hotline number and walk-in counters. Various experts, including a panel of seven lawyers, will offer their services on a pro-bono basis, he added.

According to the Indian Consulate, PBSK receives around 8,000 distress calls on its helpline every month before the pandemic. The welfare centre was also offering an average of 400 to 500 composite counselling sessions — both legal and psychological — every month. As of now, calls to the helpline number have reduced to 3,000 to 3,500 calls a month.

The heads of the missions also clarified that there are no plans at the moment to re-open the PBSK Centre in Sharjah which was closed due to lack of footfalls amid the pandemic situation.

Dubai emergency helpline, online help desk, and other consular offerings that were launched to mitigate effects caused by the pandemic will continue to operate separately, said Dr Puri. “This includes site visits that were organised to distressed labour camps by our officers. Outside of the calls we received to PBSK, the emergency calls during this difficult time went up to several thousand,” he said.

A separate panel consisting of psychological and grievance counsellors have also been established. “We have hired new staff and specialists who will be present at the consulate to provide responses and get further references for people wherever required.

“The panel of lawyers will be 24/7 and their services can be availed with prior appointment. Psychological counselling will be made available three to four days of the week, also with prior appointment,” said Dr Puri.

Walk-in individuals will be given access to meet with consular officials if needed, he added.

How is the new centre going to work?

Distressed Indian citizens are encouraged to call PBSK on the toll-free hotline 800- India (800 – 46342) and make appointments ahead of their visit to the centre to ensure social distancing norms. The toll-free number will operate in five differed languages — English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. In case a caller does not speak any of the mentioned languages, call-backs from the consulate will be arranged.

New PBSK Timings

Sunday to Thursday – 9am to 6pm

All weekends and public holidays – 2 pm to 6 pm.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88





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