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Vande Bharat Mission

  May 07, 2020

Vande Bharat Mission

What is the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ mission about?

‘Vande Bharat Mission’ will see the operation of 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19lockdown. Once completed, it may turn out to be the largest evacuation operation ever since the 1990 airlift of 1.7 lakh people from Kuwait.

To which countries will the flights be sent?

India will operate 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore and two flights to Qatar to repatriate Indian nationals between May 7 and May 13. During this period, India will also operate seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five flights each to Kuwait and Philippines, two flights each to Oman and Bahrain.’The maximum number of flights (15) will be sent from Kerala, 11 each for Delhi-NCR and Tamil Nadu, seven for Maharashtra and Telangana, five for Gujarat, three each for Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka and one each for Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Approximately, 2,000 people from abroad will fly back to India daily.

What categories of people will be given priority?

In an order, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said priority will be given for return to India to compelling cases in distress, including migrant workers, labourers who have been laid off and those faced with expiry of short term visas. Persons with medical emergency, pregnant women, elderly, those required to return to India due to death of family member, and students would also be given preference, the home ministry said.

Who will bear the cost of flight tickets?

Passengers will be charged Rs 50,000 each for London-Delhi/Mumbai/Ahmedabad/Bangalore flights and Rs 12,000 for Dhaka-Delhi flight. Passengers being repatriated from the US will be charged Rs 1 lakh, while those from Dubai will have to shell out Rs 13,000. The MEA will give travellers two days notice with the schedule (day, place and time of arrival) of the incoming flight on its website.
Air tickets will only be issued to those on the passenger lists prepared by the Embassy or Consulate, the statement said. Moreover, medical screening of passengers would be done before taking the flight. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel.

What precautions will the evacuees have to take?

Punya Salila Srivastava, a joint secretary in the Union Home Ministry, stated that the stranded Indians who would be brought back by special flights from abroad would have to download “Aarogya Setu” mobile app and follow all the government-issued health guidelines.
The statement further said that the passengers will be medically screened before taking the flight. Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel. During the journey, all passengers will have to follow protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The passengers will also have to sign an undertaking to go into a 14-day quarantine on arrival in India.

What is Indian Navy’s ‘Operation Samudra Setu’?

Apart from the flights, the Indian Navy launched ‘Operation Samudra Setu’ (Sea Bridge) as a part of national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to the port of Malè, Republic of Maldives to commence evacuation operations from 08 May 2020 as part of Phase-1.

Which agencies are involved?

This operation is being being coordinated between the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health and various other agencies of the Government of India and State governments.
Indian mission in Maldives was preparing a list of Indian nationals to be evacuated by Naval ships and would facilitate their repatriation after requisite medical screening. A total of 1000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip, catering for COVID-related social distancing norms vis-a-vis the carrying capacity and medical facilities available onboard.

A Naval ship has been sent to Dubai. The INS Shardul was diverted to Dubai to evacuate the expatriates and it will return to Kochi.

What happened in 1990?

In comparison, three decades ago, Air India led a group of airlines which included Indian Airlines and Aeroflot as well as IAF to rescue an estimated 111,711 Indians from the Gulf, after Iraq invaded Kuwait in the year 1990.

The 59-day operation involved 488 flights and was conducted before the first Gulf war. This time, the exercise will encompass flights to the US in the West to Philippines in the East.

What has been the effort so far?

The airline to date has carried out massive flight operations to China, Japan and Europe to bring back stranded Indians, mostly students and pilgrims.

Additionally, the airline has been instrumental in repatriating foreigners to Israel, UK and Germany. Moreover, Air India and its subsidiary Alliance Air has reached every corner of the country to supply essential medical equipment.

What’s is the ultimate Aim?

Overall, more than 190,000 Indian nationals, who would have to pay a one-way ferry service charge, are expected to be brought back in the airlift operation.