:Kerala Chief Minister
Oommen Chandy Saturday promised to take up the issue
of voting rights of Gulf NRIs along with that of labourers'
welfare with the Indian government.
The chief minister, who came to the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) Friday on the inaugural flight of the Air-India
Express, said the state government would take up these
issues with the centre as they required constitutional
Addressing a meeting of NRIs in Dubai Saturday, Chandy
said there were three main issues concerning Indians
in the UAE, of whom a major chunk came form Kerala.
On his first visit to the UAE after becoming chief
minister, Chandy also plans to meet investors here.
He is the first Kerala chief minister to visit the
UAE in seven years.
"The issue of a budget airline flying between
India and the UAE, one of the long-standing demands
of NRIs from Kerala, has been sorted out with the
start of the Air-India Express," he said.
The state government has not given up a plan to start
a private airline with services between Gulf and Kerala.
"The issue of starting a private airline is
still on the agenda," said Chandy, adding that
more players bring out competition that will help
the consumers. But he did not give any assurance on
the time frame for starting the airline.
On the issue of labourers' welfare, the chief minister
said he has taken it up with the UAE authorities who
have assured him that the matter will be looked into.
"There were several aspects of the problem like
non-payment of wages as well as being duped by contactors
back in India, " he said.
During his stay in Dubai, Chandy also visited labour
camps for a first-hand knowledge of the conditions
Earlier, Air-India Express, the budget airline floated
by Air-India, made its debut flights with the first
flight landing in Abu Dhabi Friday.
The inaugural flight included a high-level delegation
of central Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel
and the Kerala chief minister.
At a function in Abu Dhabi, Patel said Air-India
is embarking on new horizons with plans to acquire
a new fleet of aircraft.
Air-India Express has obtained clearance for operations
in Muscat where the airline will commence operations
May 3. The airline's fares will be 30 percent lower
than market rates, he added.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saif Al Nahyan, chairman of the
Abu Dhabi Civil Aviation Department, had presided
over the formal inaugural ceremony. (IANS)