Government to operate flights to bring back 15,000 Indians stranded overseas

Elias Hubbard
May 6, 2020

According to estimates, around 1.4 crore Indians are staying in various parts of the world.

Ministry of external affairs has unveiled the flight plan that covers 64 deployed to several countries to repatriate Indian nationals. However, India refrained from bringing back its citizens as the virus continued to spread at home and aboard.

A flight from London to Mumbai or Delhi or Bengaluru, for example, will cost around Rs 50,000, while travelling from Chicago or San Francisco will cost around Rs 1 lakh.

Apart from these, flights will also land in Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

Blue-collar workers, including those who have lost jobs in the Gulf because of the pandemic crisis - such as UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia - will be repatriated first, followed by students and Indians.

INS Jalashwa and INS Magar will get back Indians from the Maldives while INS Shardul has been diverted to Dubai to get back the expatriates from the West Asian countries. An offiical from the airline said that once the Embassy of India in Oman provided them with the names of passengers who'd been cleared to fly, they could proceed with ticket bookings. The apex court was also urged to give direction to the government to bring back Indian citizens who are stuck in Nepal.

The cost of travel would have to be borne by the travelers and the MEA would post the details of the flight schedule on the concerned platform at least two days in advance, the MHA said.

The government also issued a standard operating protocol (SOP) for the return of the stranded Indians.

The list will be made on the basis of registrations in the Embassy or Consulate database which was launched for this goal a few days back, it added.

From the Gulf countries to Malaysia and the United Kingdom to the U.S., the multi-agency operation christened "Vande Bharat Mission" will see the state-owned airline operate the non-scheduled commercial flights till May 13 to ferry around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

Medical screening of passengers will be done before they are allowed to board the flights and only asymptomatic Indians will be allowed to travel. COVID test will be done after 14 days.

State government authorities have been asked to make arrangements for testing, quarantine and onward journey of individuals to their respective states. Senior officials of two private sector airlines indicated to BusinessLine that they had not been contacted till late on Monday evening to operate any flights.

India went in to a 21-day lockdown beginning March 25 in a bid to combat the Coronavirus endemic. It was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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