COVID-19: 64 flights to evacuate 14,800 Indians from abroad
In the biggest overseas evacuation since Independence, the Centre plans to bring thousands of Indians, who have been stuck in various countries, home. A day after the government announced it would be evacuating Indians from abroad in a phased manner starting May 7, the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said 14,800 will be brought to India in 64 flights in the first week.
Why are Indians being evacuated?
The massive evacuation exercise was green-lit in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the world and destroyed economies. Since its origin in China in 2019, the deadly virus battered the globe causing 252,680 deaths and infecting 3.6 million. Countries, including India, have suspended air travel to keep a check on the contagion.
Indians from 13 countries will be brought in first phase
Now, in the first week, Indians stranded in UAE, the UK, Malaysia, the US, Philippines, Bangladesh, Singapore, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, will be brought back on Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express flights. On the first day, 10 flights will be deployed to evacuate 2,300 people. Indian missions started registering citizens who lost their jobs or want to visit families.
Here are the details of the flights
The maximum number, 15, will fly from Kerala, followed by Delhi/NCR and Tamil Nadu, from where 11 airplanes will operate. Seven flights will leave from Maharashtra and Telangana, three each from Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka, and one each from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Five will leave from Gujarat. Manila-Chennai, Chicago-Delhi-Hyderabad, New York-Delhi-Hyderabad, Kuwait-Kozhikode, and San Francisco-Delhi-Bengaluru are the routes being considered.
The government has come up with a detailed plan
As per the plan, on the second day, 2,050 Indians will arrive from nine different countries in Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Delhi. The next day, a similar number will touch down in Mumbai, Kochi, Lucknow, and Delhi from 13 countries. On Day 4, 1,850 Indians will be brought from eight countries. Before boarding, the passengers will be screened.
Nearly 200,000 in dire need to return home
According to MEA, of the 10 million passport-bearers who live abroad, 192,000 are desperate to return home. Only those who are COVID-19 negative will be allowed on these special flights and they will also have to follow guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Each flight will have 200-300 passengers to ensure social distancing is followed.
Naval warships have also been roped in for this exercise
Besides planes, naval warships have also been deployed. INS Shardul and INS Magar will bring not more than 300 people per trip, thanks to social distancing concerns. INS Jalashwa is expected to bring 1,000 Indians home.
Repatriated Indians will have to download Aarogya Setu app
Once Indians arrive, they will be screened again and will have to register themselves on the Aarogya Setu app. "After scrutiny, they will be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government," the MEA said on Monday. Yesterday, the Indian Consulate in Dubai said cost and other details will be conveyed later.
Passengers will have to accept the conditions: Consulate
"The cost of the tickets and other conditions for travel including quarantine requirements after reaching India, and health requirements to board the flight will be conveyed in due course and will have to be accepted by each passenger," the statement said.Share this timeline