saudi arabia indians workers migrants stranded food mea vikas sushma swaraj what happened how many tweet construction food shelter
Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Sati,ambassador of Saudi Arabia to India, meets with Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs, in New Delhi on August 06, 2016.PIB India

The recent case of many migrant Indians laid off by a Saudi Arabian company should be seen as a one-off case and not as a widespread problem prevailing in the Gulf country, according to a top Saudi diplomat.

"The problem was the result of an individual act by one company (Saudi Oger Construction Company). We are also aware of the company that is responsible, and steps have been taken about it. But let me repeat, this was an isolated case, not a trend or some phenomenon existing across other companies," Ambassador Saud Bin Mohammed Al Sati told The Hindu.

The number of stranded Indians suffering as a result of the lay-off was also put at 2,500 by the envoy as against earlier estimates of over 10,000 Indians left in the lurch by the construction firm.

The initial figure of more than 10,000 Indians suffering without food and shelter was put out in a tweet by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj late last month.

The matter triggered a series of swift reactions by the foreign ministry, with one of her deputies leaving for Saudi Arabia to bring back them home. She backed her tweet by two more, appealing the 3-million Indian workforce to help the stranded co-Indians in the Gulf country, which is reeling under falling crude oil prices.

Meanwhile, Vikas Swarup, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, said that all efforts are being made to help the workers, including aiding in their search for jobs in Saudi Arabia. In a media briefing on Friday, he spoke about the Indian government's four-pronged initiative to tackle the issue.

"The first and most immediate cluster is the cluster relating to humanitarian issues. The conditions of the camps in which they are living, the health conditions there, the safety conditions there, the security conditions there and most importantly whether they are getting food or not?...Instructions have already been issued by the Saudi authorities to maintain cleanliness, provide electricity, water supply and medical facilities at the camps in which the Indians are staying and the food also is now being provided by a Saudi caterer.

"The second set of issues pertains to claims by Indian workers. Earlier, in accordance with Saudi law, individual complaints used to go to labour courts. Now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labor has set up a committee to look into the claims of the workers...So the point to note here is that those workers who have not been paid for several months, even if they choose to return to India, their claims regarding their unpaid wages will be filed, will be lodged and will be pursued by the Saudi authorities.

"The third set of issues pertains to relocation. Workers who want to remain in Saudi Arabia and want to try and seek employment in other companies, considering that the original companies for which they came to work have folded or they are no longer in a position to hire them, the Saudi authorities have conveyed they are willing to renew the resident permits and labour cards to the Indian workers without any fines or fees.

"The fourth set of issues pertains to repatriation. There the Saudi authorities have conveyed that in case Indian workers wishes to return to India then they themselves, meaning the Saudi authorities, will make all the necessary arrangements. The workers can authorise the Indian consulate in Jeddah to follow up on their cases in labour courts and proceed on exit if they wish. The Saudi authorities have ensured speeding up of the final exit for these workers," Swarup said.