Over Rs 5 cr spent on welfare of distressed workers in Dubai

NEW DELHI, June 10:
The Indian Mission in Dubai has spent over Rs five crore in extending help to distressed countrymen, including housemaids and victims of trafficking, working in the UAE in the past three years.
According to information received from Ministry of Overseas Affairs in reply to an RTI query, about Rs 5.33 crore of the over Rs 17 crore were collected through surcharges on different consular services under the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) by Consulate General of India in Dubai.
The ICWF is a fund in perpetuity (which is a collection arising from a surcharge on every consular, passport, visa and attestation services rendered by any India Post or Mission overseas) meant for contingency expenditure to carry out welfare activities.
“Total collection under ICWF (from inception) till March 31, 2012 is UAE Dirhams 1,22,92,055, equivalent to Rs 17,31,27,536.90,” the reply said.
Advocate Vivek Garg had sought details of Indian Community Welfare Community (ICWC) and ICWF, including their activities from the Indian Mission.
About 1.3 million Indians live in Dubai and Northern Emirates. According to the reply, 466 women, including 134 victims of trafficking, were accommodated in the women’s shelter home run by the Consulate since 2005. Of the total, 332 were housemaids, the reply said.
“Since February 2009, a total of Rs 5,33,65,548 have been spent on stipulated welfare activities under the charter of ICWF,” it said.
The Consulate, however, declined to give further information on the beneficiary of fund saying it would “disproportionately divert government of India resources for extended durations”.
The almost 12-year-old ICWC is a community-led umbrella welfare organisation whose members include Indian associations, social groups and some Indian companies.
“The Indian Consulate offers its patronage to Indian business associations in the Dubai and the Northern emirates,” the RTI reply said.
The ICWF help distressed overseas Indians, besides providing expenditure on incidentals and airlifting the mortal remains to India in cases where the sponsor is unable or willing to do so as per the contract and the family is unable to meet the cost.
The collected amount is also spent on providing emergency medical care to the needy Indians, providing air passage to stranded countrymen and providing initial legal assistance to them in deserving cases among others.
“The Consulate General of India, Dubai as a patron is not the custodian of ICWC accounts, its members are. If the petitioner can establish that Indian community bodies overseas recognised and working under the laws of the host country are liable for scrutiny under RTI, then we can forward your request for the accounts of that body to it,” it said when asked to give details of fund collected under the ICWF. (PTI)