India to bring millions of stranded citizens home amid coronavirus pandemic
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 05 May 2020 5:33 PM
India will deploy commercial jets, military transport planes and naval warships to bring back millions of citizens who were stranded when COVID-19-related travel restrictions were imposed by several countries worldwide.
According to the Indian Navy, the first phase of the drive was estimated to help about 1.8 million Indian citizens return home.
At least four Indian Navy Ships sailed on Tuesday, three to the Persian Gulf region and another one to the Maldives, which will bring back stranded Indians.
The Indian Air Force has prepared about 30 aircraft for the mission.
Hardeep Singh Puri , the civil aviation minister, told reporters in an online briefing that Air India will operate 64 flights in the first week, while it is "entirely possible" that private airlines may also operate some flights in the future.
Air India Ltd. will also operate special, non-scheduled commercial flights from London Heathrow starting May 7.
The Indian government said in a statement Monday that people wanting to come back must pay for their journey.
Those coming from the US will be charged more than $1,300 each while tickets from London will cost more than 500 pounds.
The New Delhi government sources say all passengers will be screened and quarantined for 14 days before having to go through a virus test. People landing in the country will also have to pay for their own quarantine.
In recent weeks, Indian diplomatic missions around the world have been registering citizens who want to return because they have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone, almost 200,000 Indians have applied to come back, according to a statement tweeted by the Consulate General of India in Dubai.
The plan to evacuate citizens follows India's move to partially ease movement restrictions in many parts of the world's second-most populous nation after 40 days of strict stay-at-home orders.
Millions of Indians were stuck around the world, from the Persian Gulf states to Europe and the US, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed the lockdown on March 25 to check the spread of the virus. The outbreak has already infected over 46,000 across India, and killed almost 1,600.
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