With surge in NRI calls, Centre-appointed panel asks govt departments, states to address complaints

NEW DELHI: The government’s empowered committee to look into public grievances during COVID-19 is now looking into evacuation calls by NRIs and students stranded in foreign countries, complaints related to jobs and salaries, and other concerns, and has asked states and central ministries to dispose of them with “quality redressal” in three days.

ET has learnt that he government of India is putting final touches to a plan to evacuate Indians stranded in foreign countries by arranging special flights from May 7.

Another review meeting of the public grievances received by states and government departments, panel members and senior state government officials with union minister of state for the PMO Jitender Singh is scheduled on Tuesday.

Head of the panel, senior bureaucrat K Shivaji, said as of now over 77,000 complaints have been sent in by people to state government and central ministries.

“All of them are being looked into on a daily basis. We have monitored them over the weekend too. We are trying to get quality disposal to every complaint,” Shivaji told ET.

The panel has met 12 times, mostly virtually, and has been sending a report to top officials in the government about the status of grievance every day

In the recent weeks, apart from the surge in NRI calls, a significant number of people have also sent in grievances about job cuts, airline and e-commerce companies refusing to refund them for cancelled travel tickets, job losses, poor quarantine facilities in hospitals, requests for rescheduling of loan payments and difficulties in procuring medicines and essential supplies during lockdown, an official said.

In the last two weeks, several states have been getting SOS calls from students, workers in Gulf countries and other parts of the world, besides from NRIs stranded abroad due to travel restrictions.

Hundreds of Indians, including students, are believed to be stranded across different countries, especially in the US, UK, Europe and the Gulf, amid travel restrictions imposed to check the spread of Covid-19. Official sources said the government had also instructed the NRI community and OCI (overseas citizens of India) cardholders to help them.

Nearly 40 per cent of these grievances received by states and centre deal with evacuation calls from stranded Indians, economy, job cuts, salary issues and problems with banking services. While around 20,000 of these complaints have gone to the PM’s office directly asking for his direct intervention, over 5,000 of the public grievances have gone to the ministry of external affairs.

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