Responding to the Centre's announcement of evacuating stranded Indian citizens abroad, Air India and other private airlines have submitted an evacuation plan to the Union Government. IndiGo has stated that the airlines are prepared with aircraft, crew and network to support the government and bring back Indian citizens from the Middle-East. The Government has stated that it would initiate the operations to bring back Indians from May 7.
Speaking to ANI, IndiGo Chief Commercial Officer William Boulter said, "There are over 1.5 lakh Indians, who are either stranded due to suspension of operations or have registered to fly back owing to loss of their jobs due to the pandemic. We are waiting to hear from the government on the evacuation plan and next steps. We would be eager to play a role and contribute at this critical time."
In a major relief for Indians stranded abroad, the Centre on Monday announced that their travel will be arranged via aircraft and naval ships in a phased manner. It added that the Indian High Commissions and embassies are preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens. However, it clarified that this facility is available on payment-basis and will begin in a phased manner on May 7.
The Centre added that only asymptomatic people will be allowed to travel after medical scrutiny. It also mandated the installation of Aarogya Setu app and 14-day institutional quarantine on payment basis. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Civil aviation ministry will soon share details while state governments have been advised to make arrangements for testing, quarantine and their journey onwards.
While the Ministry of External Affairs has set up a cell to facilitate the return of Indians stuck abroad, the apex court in April maintained that Indian citizens stranded in various countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic should "stay where they are". This was in response to the Centre saying it would not be feasible to "selectively evacuate" those who want to return due to various reasons. The MEA has assured that it is in coordination with respective governments and has constituted a 4-member special cell with Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi to coordinate the response to COVID-19.
(With ANI Inputs)