On May 7, India will begin 'Vande Bharat Mission', believed to be the biggest repatriation mission in the country's history, to bring home citizens stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The phased repatriation mission from May 7 to 13, has 64 flights bringing back approximately 14,800 citizens from 12 countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Philippines, Singapore, UK, Bangladesh, Singapore, USA and Oman.
India plans to repatriate up to 2,000 stranded nationals from the UAE itself. Through 10 special flights in a week, starting from May 7. The embassy did a series of tweets regarding the flights.
177 passengers have been listed as travelling on the first evacuation flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi on Thursday, as per the Indian Embassy-Consulate in the UAE.
Over 3,000 Indian nationals have registered with the High Commission of India in Singapore.
Thermal screening will be done at the airports and only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board. Those found to be symptomatic during screening will be taken to a medical facility as per health protocol.
The Ministry of Home Affairs’ requisite standard operating procedure (SOP) for all stranded Indian citizens returning home include that they:
- Should test negative for the Covid-19 coronavirus in order to fly.
- Must give a written undertaking that they are travelling at their own risk.
- Shall be asked to download the Arogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
- Need to provide a written undertaking, indicating their consent to undergo a mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine upon arrival in India, at their own cost.
Indians stranded due to COVID-19 and returning home are to bear the cost of travel as specified by Civil Aviation Ministry, as well as the price for staying in a government-arranged 14-day quarantine facility.
Flights from the UAE to Kerala are likely to cost around Dh750, with the first repatriation flight from Dubai to Kozhikode, Kerala, priced at Dh725.
The Kerala state government has confirmed it would bear the cost of keeping returning Indians in government- arranged quarantine facilities however the status and cost in other Indian states remains is yet to be confirmed.
All passengers will travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights arranged by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) and Naval ships arranged by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). Only those staff and crew who have been tested negative will be allowed to operate the flights/ ships the ministries circular said.
The Ministry of External Affairs will display, with at least two days' notice, the schedule - day, place, and time of arrival - of the incoming ship/ flight, on their digital platform as seen in the tweet below.
Details of all travellers who registered with Indian embassies and consulates will be shared with the state governments/ union territories well in advance, including place of residence and the place of final destination.
Priority will be given to:
- Compelling cases in distress,
- Migrant workers and labourers who have been laid off,
- Short-term visa holders faced with the expiry of visas,
- Persons with medical emergencies including pregnant women and elderly persons.
- Students and those who have suffered a death in their family.
A self-declaration form (with health and personal details) in duplicate will be filled well in advance by passengers coming in from any point of entry - land, sea, or airports, and a copy of the form will be given to the Health and Immigration officers present at the airport/ seaport.
Wearing of masks is mandatory while on flights, said the MHA. Respiratory hygiene, environmental hygiene and health protocols issued by the MoCA and DMA must be strictly adhered to by all airline/ ship crew and passengers, said the MHA.