Non-resident Keralites in distress received Dh7.8 million aid in 2018

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with other Norka officials, at the launch of a free ambulance service for NRKs.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with other Norka officials, at the launch of a free ambulance service for NRKs.

Dubai - The Santhwana scheme was launched in 2004, exclusively to give financial aid to returning non-resident Keralites and their families.

By Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 5 Dec 2018, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Dec 2018, 10:16 PM

Under a scheme called Santhwana,  non-resident Keralites (NRKs) returning home from foreign countries have received a financial aid of Dh7.8 million (Rs15 crore) this financial year, a top Kerala government official has said. 
Speaking to Khaleej Times, K Harikrishnan Namboothiri. CEO of the department of non-resident Keralites affairs (Norka), said in July this year, the Kerala government launched a free ambulance service for NRKs, including UAE expatriates, from all airports across the southern state. "The ambulance is meant for transporting sick NRK repatriates, who reach airports, to their residence or hospital free of cost. Same facility is being provided for transportation of mortal remains," said Namboothiri.
He said the Santhwana scheme was launched in 2004, exclusively  to give financial aid to returning non-resident Keralites  and their families who are in extreme financial crisis.
The programme has provided a total of Rs 15 crore (Dhs 7.8 million) to deserving beneficiaries in the 2018- 19 financial year. It programme provides benefits of various kinds, including, a total of Rs 1 lakh in the case of death of an NRK.
The fund also covers insurance on ailments such as cancer, heart diseases, and severe kidney problems, partial paralysis, paralysis due to accidents. "NRKs suffering from these ailments will be given Rs 50, 000," explained Namboothiri.
The government will also provide Rs 15,000 to fathers who want to organise a wedding for their daughters, and up to Rs 10,000 will be given for amputees who want to purchase walking sticks or other tools for movement.
Repatriation scheme not new
Refuting vernacular media reports on Norka's plans of launching repatriation (mortal remains and bedridden patients) reimbursement fund of up to Rs 50,000 (Dh 2,600), he clarified that the programme has been in place since 2009- 2010.
"It is an old scheme; however, our aim now is to strengthen the scheme and give it renewed public attention," said Namboothiri. The programme, called Karunyam, is for workers who died abroad as well as workers who died outside of Kerala.
In the UAE, the repatriation of Indian workers is taken up by companies, social workers, Indian associations, as well as the diplomatic missions. Namboothiri also clarified that reimbursement of repatriation is only applicable to NRKs and their families who are not receiving help from any other quarters.
"Nowadays, sponsors are willing to pay the repatriation fees. There are also funds from the diplomatic missions. If an NRK has been denied help even from missions, Norka will step in to help," he added.
The issue came to light recently after an activist from the Gulf raised concerns at a World Kerala Sabha meeting. In response to the problem raised, Somy Solomon, a representative from Tanzania, requested Norka to respond to the query.
She told Khaleej Times: "As a standing committee member for Migrant Law and Welfare of Migrant Women when media people raised the issue recently, I followed up with Norka to learn more."
Documents needed to claim Norka repatriation reimbursement
1-Duly cancelled Indian passport, with the visa, date of entry and time of cancellation
2-Work permit or other documents which shows he/she was employed
3-Contract of employment, appointment letter and other proofs of employment
4-Death certificate and other medical certificates
5-Proof of relationship of applicant to the deceased
6-Identity Card of the Indian Election Commission and / or other proof of present residence of applicant (If Election ID card is not furnished, the reasons should be stated).
7-Proof of income of all members of the family of the deceased; and legal heirship certificate.
8-Certificate from the company/sponsor, which states they did not meet expenses of repatriation
9-Bills showing charges of embalming/ coffin preparation/ mortuary/ hospital charges/ transportation
10-Documents confirming the amount for repatriation was met personally by the applicant

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