Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent / Ashraf Padanna
India will begin evacuation of its citizens, stranded abroad after the enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown, in a phased manner on Thursday.
India’s Press Information Bureau said the travel would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships following a standard operating protocol (SOP) it has prepared.
The delay in repatriating expatriates, including the sick, pregnant, elderly, children and the jobless, had triggered widespread outrage back home. “Indian diplomatic missions are preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens,” the official agency said.
“This facility would be made available on a payment basis. Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel.”
Medical screening of passengers would be done before taking the flight. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel, it said.
During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow protocols issued by its health and aviation ministries.
On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu, its contact tracing app, and they would be medically screened.
After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state governments. COVID tests would be done after 14 days, and further action would be taken according to health protocols.
Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India in Dubai had started preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens a week ago. A dedicated website was launched on April 29 to prepare a database to register Indians wishing to travel back to India under the Covid-19 situation.
More than 25,000 Indians living in the UAE who wanted to travel back to India under COVID-19 situations had registered through the website on the very first day.
Meanwhile, online registration for Indians living in the UAE who wish to travel back to India under COVID-19 situations continues through the website launched by the Indian missions to collect the database of such Indian nationals.
Applicants may visit the website available at, http://cgidubai.gov.in/covid_register/, to register. Indian expatriates can also enter the details through the website of the Embassy www.indembassyuae.gov.in or Consulate www.cgidubai.gov.in by following the link “Register in Database of Indians to Travel Back to India under Covid-19 situation.”
The data to be entered is simple and does not require any uploading of documents. Some fields are mandatory which include important details such as passport number, mobile number and address of the individual in India. In case of families each member will have to fill up the form separately. Similarly, employees of a company will also need to fill the form separately.
However, registration with the Embassy or Consulate will not entitle automatic allocation of seat on a flight to India. The main objective of the database is to estimate the number of people who wish to travel to different parts of the country so that appropriate planning could be done to receive them in India and take all precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 disease.
The conditions for travelling on flights back to India will be notified later. The returnees will have to abide by all rules and regulations of Government of UAE on departure and Government of India on arrival.
This announcement of repatriation facility has brought hope to thousands of Indians living abroad to return home as Indians are trying to adjust with the new set of guidelines issued during the third phase of lockdown started on Monday.
The foreign and aviation ministries would soon share detailed information about it through their websites, the PIB said.
State governments are being advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians.
Earlier, people from Kerala, stranded in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state, started coming back as it opened its borders for limited road traffic.
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