In a first of its kind mega evacuation plan, a record number of nearly 1,90,000 will be evacuated from all over the world from where they have been stranded for various reasons post the lockdown. For some it could be either that their visas have expired or they have been deported or have lost their jobs and so on. They will be charged at commercial rates with Rs 50,000 from Europe and UK and 1 lac from USA. One way fares from the Gulf Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha to Kochi Kerala would range between 15,000 to 16,000.
The evacuation in its first phase will fly back Indians from 12 countries between May 7th and May 13th which would include : UEA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom and the United States.
The first phase will bring back 2,100 citizens from US and 2,000 from the UAE.Union Civil Minister, Hardeep Puri said “this was one of the most comprehensive and challenging evacuation plan.” He added that 64 flights would operate in the first week and bring back 15,000 Indians stranded abroad. Putting all conjectures to rest that this would be a free service he mentioned that it was not free and they would be charged as per the fares decided since this was a service being carried under “special circumstances.” He also went on to add that the charges were imposed in order to restrict the evacuation to only those who were in dire need of coming back otherwise the numbers would be much higher and uncontrolled.
The National Carrier Air India will operate 40 of its flights and its subsidiary Air India Express will operate 24 of its flights to bring back the stranded Indians. It was indicated that private airline would also be considered at a later date.
For the repatriation a SOP or standard operating protocol has been put in place with strict guidelines, including signing of a self- declaration form, medical screening at the airports, self- imposed quarantine upon return for 14 days, mandatory download of the Aarogya Setu app and many more. Several rules and regulations pertaining to this evacuation have been put in place by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Ministry. It is to be noted that only asymptomatic passengers will be flown in.
The Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy will have been kept on standby to assist the government in this rescue operation, with their ships and aircraft in readiness as and when needed.