7 days, 12 countries, 64 flights: India’s plan to fly back thousands of citizens amid coronavirus pandemic

Updated on May 05, 2020 04:54 PM IST

According to the flight plan by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), 64 flights will be sent to a dozen countries to repatriate students and blue-collar workers among others from abroad.

Grounded aircraft stand at Terminal 2 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport during a lockdown implemented due to the coronavirus in New Delhi.(Bloomberg)
Grounded aircraft stand at Terminal 2 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport during a lockdown implemented due to the coronavirus in New Delhi.(Bloomberg)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHindustantimes.com | Edited by: Meenakshi Ray

India will send more than 60 flights spread over a week to bring back hundreds of thousands of its citizens stranded around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the flight plan by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), 64 flights will be sent to a dozen countries to repatriate students and blue-collar workers among others from abroad.

“So India finally begins to fly back its Citizens home – approximately 2000 persons a day. A sneak peek into the 7-day plan. Punjab has only one incoming flight from Dubai, UAE on the 7,” KBS Sidhu, Punjab special chief secretary, tweeted on Tuesday.

 

Sidhu also tweeted the detailed flight plan for the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad.

Residents of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh are among those to be evacuated.

The 64 flights will be sent to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia, the UK, Singapore, Bangladesh, the Philippines and the US from May 7.

There will be 15 flights—the maximum—for the residents of Kerala, 11 each from Delhi-NCR and Tamil Nadu, seven for Maharashtra and Telangana, five for Gujarat, three each for Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka and one each for Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Blue-collar workers, including those who have lost jobs in West Asia, such as UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, will be repatriated first, followed by students and Indians who were stranded in other countries for a variety of reasons.

At least 150,000 Indians have registered to return with the Indian missions in the UAE alone and about 45,000 Indians who benefited from a recent visa amnesty will be brought back from Kuwait.

Indian missions around the world have been registering citizens stranded when Covid-19-related travel restrictions were put in place by India and other countries, and those who want to return because they have lost their jobs or to meet their families.

A statement issued by the government on Monday said the “facility would be made available on payment-basis” and “travel would begin in a phased manner from May 7”.

Anyone wishing to return to India will have to undergo medical screening and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to return to the country, the statement said. It added that state governments will make arrangements for testing, quarantine and onward movement of people who return.

These travellers will have to register on the Arogya Setu app after reaching their destination in India and undergo another medical screening.

“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 statement said.

Test to detect Covid-19 will be done on the travellers after 14 days and “further action would be taken according to health protocols”, it said.

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