Unfortunate that Centre did not Give Clearance to Kerala Health Minister for Kuwait Travel, Says LoP

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KOCHI – Leader of Opposition (LoP) V.D. Satheesan on Friday blamed the Centre for not giving the political clearance to state Health Minister Veena George to travel to Kuwait in the wake of the building fire tragedy.

At least 45 Indians died in the fire that broke out at an apartment building in Kuwait of which 24 were from Kerala. “It’s most unfortunate that the Centre failed to give the political clearance to George. In what’s the worst-ever tragedy involving this many Keralites, the presence of a Minister along with the Centre’s Minister would have been better. The Centre should have given the clearance as soon as the state deputed George to travel, but it was not done and is unfortunate,” said Satheesan.

While Satheesan slammed the Centre, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after arriving at the Kochi airport to receive the mortal remains thanked both the Indian and Kuwait governments for the prompt action. It was the special cabinet meeting held in the state capital on Thursday that decided to depute George to Kuwait for coordination with the numerous Kerala organisations that were helping the local authorities to transport the bodies back home.

George then moved her papers and reached the airport to take the departing flight to Kuwait on Thursday late evening. Her wait, however, turned futile when information came that she would not get the mandatory clearance required from the Centre to travel abroad.

She also expressed her anguish at the Centre’s refusal late Thursday night. Union Minister Kirti Vardhan Singh rushed to Kuwait on Thursday and coordinated the work with the Indian Embassy officials there. Meanwhile, Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi downplayed the incident and said that with the Centre quickly sending Minister Singh to Kuwait, perhaps there was no need for a second ‘official’. -IANS

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