Indians stranded abroad to pay for flights getting them home, says minister
In the first week, Air India will be conducting all the flights, said the minister, adding that private airlines will be considered going forward.Updated: May 05, 2020, 17:46 IST
Those Indians stranded abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak will be charged for the flights bringing them home, announced aviation minister Hardeep Puri on Tuesday.
All asymptomatic Indians will be asked to self quarantine for 14 days after they land in India. The state governments will be responsible for the quarantine facilities.
In the first lot of repatriation, beginning May 7, Air India will be conducting all the flights, said the minister, adding that private airlines will be considered going forward.
“It is a commercial service being carried out under special circumstances. The exchequer does not have the space to pay for repatriation,” said Hardeep Puri.
The minister added that all prescribed health guidelines will be followed while bringing the passengers home.
Close to 2 lakh Indians have requested the government to help them come back.
Fifteen-hour flights from the US will cost Rs 1 lakh, while flights form the UK will cost Rs 50,000 per passenger.
The move likely follows the criticism against the government that it earlier flew Indians stranded abroad home gratis while the migrant labourers were asked to pay for their special train tickets.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi stung the Centre when she said her party will pay for the tickets of stranded migrants. Defending itself, the railways said they were charging state governments just 15% of the calculated train fare for the special trains and it was for the states to bear this cost or get the migrant workers to pay.
Central government officials have, for days, been telling state governments not to encourage migrant workers to travel. It would not only slow down the economic revival process and make the recovery process longer but also could, as the World Bank had also warned south Asian countries, spread the vector across the region.
On Friday, the Centre, however, gave in to pressure from state governments which had been demanding special trains to take the stranded workers home and operated the first train between Telangana and Jharkhand.