The CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala is planning to launch a passenger ship service between the coast of the southern state and the Gulf countries to provide affordable travel for Malayali expatriates in the Middle East who are forced to pay exorbitant airline charges for their trips home.
A high-level meeting held here on Wednesday decided to devise a plan to start a passenger ship service between Kerala and the Gulf, state Port Minister Ahammad Devarkovil said.
The minister said airline companies charge exorbitant money from ordinary expatriates for their travel during festive seasons. They are forced to set aside the lion’s share of their meagre savings for travel, Devarkovil said.
The minister said the project was planned at the high-level meeting organised by the Malabar Development Council and the Kerala Maritime Board.
The government is planning to launch the ship service with the cooperation of the Department of Non Resident Keralites’ Affairs (NORKA), the official body of the diaspora of Kerala ethnicity, said Devarkovil.
In a Facebook post, the minister said the LDF government has allocated Rs 15 crore in this year’s budget to solve the travel problems of expatriates. The idea is to start the ship service using this amount also, he said.
The meeting was attended by Kerala Maritime Board Chairman N S Pillai, CEO Salim Kumar, NORKA General Manager Ajith Kolassery, MDC President C E Chakunni, office bearers M K Ayyappan, Zubair, and others.