Hundreds of Indian workers stuck in Libya in northern Africa without being paid salaries since October last year will return home by the month end, says Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi.
"My ministry held talks with the Libyan government...the people stuck over there will return at the earliest, ending the ministry's long-standing effort. They are processing their exit visas and I expect them to be here by the end of this month," Ravi told IANS.
A two-member delegation from the ministry consisting of Emigration Director K.C.Badhok and minister's additional personal secretary K.V. Unnikrishnan Wednesday submitted a report to Ravi after a two-day visit to Libya.
"On (Indian Ambassador to Libya) M. Manimekalai's request for help, I sent two officials from the ministry to look into the matter and negotiate with the Libyan government and also to assist our embassy there in every way possible to provide the workers with basic requirements like food, healthcare, etc. and to bring them back to India," Ravi said.
The ministry has sanctioned Rs.500,000 to provide food and medical aid to the 560 workers rehabilitated in five different camps in and around Libyan capital Tripoli.
Ministry officials said nearly 700 workers from India working on various construction projects in Libya were left in a limbo when an Indonesian contracting company, CKG, hired by Libyan government agency Organization for Development of Administrative Centers (ODAC), stopped paying the workers since last October.
"We have been assured by ODAC that they will pay the workers directly instead of paying the company and they will also send the workers back home without further delays after processing their exit visas," a ministry official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Of the 644 workers, 84 workers who were paid their pending salaries arrived in India last week.
"The understanding between the Libyan government and our ministry is that the exit visa penalty that the contractors were supposed to pay on behalf of these poor workers be waived so they can come back to India," the official added.
Taking a firm stand on the issue, Ravi said his ministry "will not issue any more emigration clearances for employment in Libya in the best interest of our people".