200,000 Indian expats register to go back home

By Eudore R.Chand

First two  special flights to carry Indians in ‘distress’

DUBAI 5 May 2020: The Government of India has decided to operate two special flights from UAE to India on May 7, according to the Indian consulate in Dubai

One flight will operate from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and the other from Dubai to Kozhikode. The passenger lists for both these flights will be finalized by the Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India, Dubai on the basis of registrations in the Embassy/Consulate database for this purpose launched a few days back.

Priority will be given to workers in distress, elderly people, urgent medical cases, pregnant women as well as to other people who are stranded in difficult situations. The Embassy/Consulate are contacting the people on the passenger lists directly through email/telephone.

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. Air tickets will only be issued to those on the passenger lists prepared by the Embassy/Consulate.

The Embassy /Consulate will also be conveying the details of further flights to different destinations in India in the coming days. The process for finalization of the passenger lists for other flights will remain the same.

“We seek patience and cooperation from everyone as the Government of India undertakes this massive task of repatriation of Indian nationals. Given that the Embassy/Consulate have received almost 200,000 registrations for travelling back, it will take time for all people to be accommodated on these flights. It is also requested that given the social distancing norms under Covid-19 visits to the Embassy/Consulate should be avoided,” said an issued statement.

In New Delhi, the Indian government said it will give priority to its citizens in the Gulf who are “distressed” while arranging their evacuation in the coming days.

The description of being “distressed” include those who are no longer gainfully employed, people who arrived in the Gulf on visit visas which have since expired, pregnant women, the elderly and those who are in need of medical treatment in their home states in India, said Wam.

Phased Evacuation

India made it clear that it “will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner.” This means only those Indians who have “compelling” reasons to return to India will be evacuated.

If an Indian living abroad wants to visit his native country for no reason, such a request will not be accommodated on “non-scheduled commercial flights” which are being arranged for the evacuation.

Ships to also evacuate Indians

Since the repatriation “facility would be made available on payment basis” according to the Home Ministry, extremely distressed Indians, who cannot afford to pay for their return are likely to be evacuated by ships, which are being readied for this task.

For this and other such procedural details about the evacuation, “the Standard Operating Protocol, SOP, has been prepared in this regard,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Yesterday, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba shared with his counterparts in states details of the central government’s expectations about the volume of Indian nationals seeking to return home. He asked individual states to ready quarantine and testing facilities for the returnees.

Quarantine Facilities

The process of evacuating Indians, in which the Gulf region is a priority, is expected to begin only after Gauba and his team are satisfied that states have made adequate arrangements for testing and quarantine.

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Dubai Gazette