Vande Bharat Mission: 8 flights from 7 countries to land in India today
Hundreds of Indians stranded in at least seven countries because of the coronavirus pandemic will fly back home on Saturday in special flights of Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission, India’s mammoth repatriation operation.
Four flights carrying Indian nationals under the Vande Bharat mission will be arriving from Bangladesh’s Dhaka to Delhi at 3pm, Kuwait to Hyderabad 6:30pm, Oman’s Muscat to Cochin at 8:50pm and the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah to Lucknow 8:50pm.
Another four will come from Kuwait and land in Cochin 9:15pm, Malaysia’s Kaula Lampur to Trichy 9:40pm, the United Kingdom’s London to Mumbai 1:30am of May 20 and Qatar’s Doha to Cochin at 1:40am.
This is the first phase of the massive Vande Bharat mission. It started on May 7 and will run till May 13 and involves the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, the UK and the United States.
In the first week of Vande Bharat, 64 flights are expected to bring 15,000 Indian citizens home from 12 countries.
India will expand its mega Vande Bharat mission from next week to evacuate stranded citizens from abroad by including countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Germany, Spain and Thailand, official sources said on Friday.
All international passengers will be charged for the journey and fares from Gulf countries to Kerala range from Rs 15,000 to Rs 16,000. Rescue flights from London will cost Rs 50,000 and those from the US Rs 1,00,000.
At least 300,000 people have registered to come back in West Asia alone but the authorities are focusing only on “compelling cases”.
Priority will be given to “asymptomatic” migrant labourers/workers abroad who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry (of visas), persons with medical emergency, pregnant women, the elderly, students, and those required to return to India due to the death of a family member.
All those who travel back will have to undergo strict screening processes and download the Aarogya Setu app. The evacuated citizens will then be sent to institutional quarantine facilities set up by various state governments.
Pregnant women, people needing immediate treatment, those returning to attend ceremonies connected to the death of a close relative, aged people needing continuous assistance and children under 10 years will be permitted to go to their houses, where they will be under strict home quarantine (self-isolation) for 14 days, officials said.
Nearly 7000 Indian nationals stranded in the Maldives were also evacuated on Friday from the scenic island nation on an Indian Navy warship. The INS Jalashwa, the navy’s amphibious warship, reached Male on Thursday to undertake the massive repatriation mission named ‘Operation Samudra Setu’.
The first naval ship from Male is expected to arrive at the Cochin Port on May 10, Port Trust officials in Kochi said.
All domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended during the three-phase lockdown from on March 25 and which will continue till May 17.