New Delhi: After instructing states to make adequate arrangements for the return of migrant workers to their homes, the Narendra Modi government will now be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad in a phased manner.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the travel would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships from 7 May.
A Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) has been prepared in this regard, an MHA official told ThePrint.
According to the official, Indian embassies and high commissions have been asked to prepare a list of distressed Indian citizens, who are stuck abroad and want to return.
This facility, the MHA said, would be made available on a “payment basis”.
“Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel. The travel would begin in a phased manner from 7 May,” the official said.
Also read: Stay put, be patient, Modi govt tells Indians stuck abroad, asks NRIs and OCIs to help out
A ‘priority list’
According to government sources, the administration will make a “priority list”. In the first phase, only those Indian nationals will be brought back who are facing financial difficulties, having medical emergencies and those who are dependents.
In the first phase, the government is most likely to bring back those citizens who are stuck in the Gulf region, followed by Japan and the US.
“Indian nationals are stuck from the Caribbean islands to Australia… So not all can be brought together at one go. It will have to be done in a phased manner,” said a government official, who is involved in the process.
The decision to bring back Indians stuck abroad was taken last month when the Ministry of External Affairs made a detailed proposal on how the operation can be done in a graded manner.
ThePrint had reported earlier that those who intend to come back to the country will have to pay for the travel upon return.
Following the presentation by the Ministry of External Affairs to all state governments, Indian missions abroad have already started the process of registration of those who want to come back.
Several thousand Indians, including students on short-term visas, are currently stranded abroad as they could not return home due to the 40-day lockdown in India as well as travel restrictions put in place everywhere to contain the spread of Covid-19.
While India did repatriate some of its citizens, including students from Europe, China, Iran and others in early March, the process was halted after the announcement of the lockdown on 24 March, and complete restrictions on air travel.
As the clamour to bring them back was growing and the Modi government was coming under fire, governments of Kuwait and the UAE had offered to fly their own special aircraft to send the Indians stranded there back to India.
Downloading of Aarogya Setu app made mandatory
According to another government official, medical screening of all passengers would be done before they board flights and only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel.
The MHA also said it will be mandatory for all the passengers to download the Aarogya Setu app on reaching the destination.
The app, launched in early April, was designed by MyGovIndia with an objective to collect data on people’s location and cross-refer it with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s database of Covid-19 tests to warn a user if an infected person is in the vicinity.
“During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the health protocols, issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” a statement issued by the MHA Monday said.
“On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu app. Everyone would be medically screened,” the statement added.
After medical scrutiny, the passengers would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis by the state government concerned.
“Covid test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols,” the statement said.
The Centre has also advised the state governments to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians, in their respective states.
“The ministries of external affairs and civil aviation would soon share detailed information about it through their websites,” the statement by MHA said.
Also read: COVID fight: Modi’s ‘no Indian left behind’ mantra runs into ‘stay where you are’ diplomacy
Why isn’t the Indian Government not paying any bit of heed to the people/workers/students stranded in China? Why is the government so hell bent over satisfying the UAE, UK and the USA?. When will the government do some work without thinking about it’s own gain or satisfying it’s prejudice?
I am a student from Germany. Also a person who really stuggling here due my jobloss followed by the spread of covid-19 pandamic .I am frequently calling Indian Embassy for help even they dont care and the response was too cold. The govt is doing a lot while listening to news channel but comes to reality the common people are truely stuck and nobody is hearing them. If anybody is seeing my comment please do something for the students those who stuck in the various part of the world.
It seems highly inaccurate to refer the present GOI as “MODI GOVERNMENT”, seems like he owns it. Better to just call it GOI.
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