Word For Peace
NEW DELHI: India will expand the scope of its repatriation exercise from May 15 to include Russia, Germany, Thailand, France, Spain, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ET has learnt.
At present, the government plans to operate 64 Air India flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back about 15,000 Indians stranded in 12 countries – the US, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
India will operate 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore and two flights to Qatar.
During this time period, there will be seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five flights each to Kuwait and the Philippines and two flights each to Oman and Bahrain.
Six repatriation flights in phase one of the repatriation exercise are scheduled to reach India on Friday. While the first flight from Singapore landed in New Delhi, four flights from various destinations in the Gulf will reach cities in south India.
A Dhaka-Srinagar flight brought back over 150 students from Jammu & Kashmir, most of them studying medicine in Bangladesh. The first repatriation flight reached Kochi from Abu Dhabi on Thursday with 177 Indians on board.
All returning passengers go through multi-level screenings including thermal checks. In Kerala, the passengers were then seated in buses that took them to their home districts, where they were quarantined.
Pregnant women and senior citizens are exempted from institutional quarantine but will have to follow strict quarantine measures at home.
As part of the repatriation, the largest since Independence, the national carrier also opened online bookings for those eligible to travel from India to London, Singapore and select destinations in the US on flights operating from May 8 to May 14, the airline said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the government said people eligible for outbound flights must hold OCI cards, citizenship of a foreign country, visas valid for more than one year of a destination country or green cards of that country.
In line with the standard operating procedures released on Tuesday, Air India has tested its pilots and crew for Covid-19.
As of now, a total number of 67,833 requests for repatriation have been registered. These include, in descending order, requests from students (34% of total – 22,470), migrant workers (30% of total – 15,815), short-term visa holders faced with expiry of visas (9,250), those faced with medical emergency or seeking treatment for terminal illness (5,531), tourists stranded abroad (4,147), pregnant women and the elderly (3,041) and those required to return due to death of a family member (1,112).
State-wise break-up of repatriation requests, in descending order, is as follows: Kerala (25,246), Tamil Nadu (6,617), Maharashtra (4,341), Uttar Pradesh (3,715), Rajasthan (3,320), Telangana (2,796), Karnataka (2,786), Andhra Pradesh (2,445), Gujarat (2,330) and Delhi (2,232).