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MENAFN - Arab News - 04/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The Indian Embassy in Riyadh has used only 41 percent of its Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) during the last two years. This announcement was made at a press conference held by the officials of the Federation of Keralite Association in Saudi Arabia, (FOKASA) in Riyadh on Sunday.

Speaking at the press conference, R. Muraleedharan, president of FOKASA, said it is unfortunate that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh has not used 59 percent of the ICWF funds when there were several deserving cases which could have been easily benefitted from the program.

From the period between 16 Nov. 2009 and Sept. 30, 2012 , the Embassy had received Indian Rupees 9,04,31,678 toward the fund. During this period, the mission had spent Indian Rupees 3,71,01,246 . The remaining balance in the fund stands IR 5,33,30,432. "This means the Embassy spent less than half of the amount collected so far. The bulk of the balance idly remains in the ICWF," the president said.

ICWF derives its funds from the country's expatriates who contribute SR 8 per head for the mission's consular services.

The fund is aimed at providing board and lodging for distressed overseas Indian workers in domestic sector and unskilled laborers, extending emergency medical care to those in need, providing air passage to stranded overseas Indians in need, providing initial legal assistance to deserving cases and bearing the expenditure of airlifting the body remains to India or local cremation/burial of the deceased Indians.

Under the program, the ICWF in Riyadh helps the repatriation of around 600 remains of Indian workers in the Kingdom annually and a large number of workers benefit from the compensation scheme which offers supplementary funds to those employees who are paid less than their due compensation from their Saudi sponsors.

Muraleedharan explained that some of the requirements laid out by the mission to help deserving cases were rigid and should be relaxed to help a greater number of distressed Indian expatriates.

"It is shameful that the Embassy of India has not utilized a single penny for providing much needed "legal aid" even for Indians languishing in jails without proper trials." "A professional Saudi lawyer's services is available for SR 2000 to obtain information of a person wrongly accused and sent to prison," Muraleedharan said. Bureaucratic delays make it difficult for the victims to avail themselves of their due services from the mission.

During the meeting, FOKASA requested the Indian embassy to implement the new directives of the Miniistry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) for providing financial assistance up to 1000 in legal assistance to distressed people.

"This will be of great help for the Huroob victims since the revocation of the Huroob is possible upon payment of SR 2000," he added.

New suggestions made by the MOIA recommended that the Ambassador should set up a cash system with the Chief of the Welfare Section so that minor payments for the beneficiaries can be carried out on an emergency basis without going through formalities.


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