Governments mending all the orders about the lockdown and its’ relief have driven some of the NRIs paranoid. Apparently, lakhs of NRIs want to return to India because of the pandemic risks that unfolds while trying to revive the economy of foreign countries.
The first step of the Indian government’s mission on mass evacuation is called Vande Bharat Mission, to bring scores of stranded expatriates back to the country. This is effective from May 7, Thursday.
Millions of people, stranded across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are desperately waiting to return to their natives. However, reconsidering the proportion of individuals who wish to come back. The Indian government has analysed the steps wherein the first course of action is prioritising who should be brought back in the first phase of the mission.
Vande Bharat Mission
The state government have submitted the list of people who are stranded and the according to sources, the Centre has categorised those to be brought back to the country into different groups.
- In the first phase of the mission called Vande Bharat Mission, around 15,000 people will be evacuated from May 7 to 13.
The plan is to first pay heed to those facing deportation in foreign countries:
- People who have lost jobs,
- Those with expired visas,
- People with medical emergencies,
- Pregnant women,
- Aged expatriates,
- Students whose hostels have been shut and
- People with family emergencies will be flown back.
As stated above the prioritised category are those individuals stranded abroad who are under high risk. Unfortunately, the emigrants listed by state governments are under the high priority category.
The protocol begins with evacuating 14,800 people in 64 flights from 12 countries. Namely, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
Out of the 64 flights, 15 will arrive at Kerala, a large volume of NRIs are registered to land here in India. The rest of the south Indian states, 11 flights will arrive at Tamil Nadu, seven flights in Telangana and three in Karnataka. Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujrat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh airports, too, will receive these emigrant flights.
The present operations, in the first phase, will be carried out by the flights of Air India. However, people who are coming back in phase 1 are brought at the government’s expense. The Ministry of External Affairs has said that the travellers will have to cover their own cost of travel, including buying the flight tickets. The official pricing of tickets is yet to be disclosed.
From phase 2, private airlines, too, might join the evacuation process.
Comfort evacuation of the emigrants will start soon. But the total number accommodated in the flight is not yet finalised. Though the respective state government has probed the reason for the delay.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Centre has informed that about 80,000 Keralites will be back. But, the state government’s priority list had over 1 lakh stranded people for evacuation.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Union government suspended all existing visas granted to foreign nationals. Specially, who wish to visit India. This is till the international air travel remain shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ministry also said it has kept in abeyance multiple-entry life-long visas given to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders till international travel remains suspended. It further said, any OCI cardholder who is in India can continue their stay, it said. Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during the period may contact the nearest Indian mission, it said.