External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday apprised about the return of residents of Maharashtra who were stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after Maharashtra Cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray on May 16 wrote a letter to Jiashankar, to assist Indian citizens from Maharashtra stranded abroad to be brought back in a phased manner but at the earliest, especially a lot of whom are in USA and Australia.
Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar stated that planes from the UK, USA, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Philippines, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Ethiopia & Oman have already come. He added that he looks forward to organising further flights from the US, Europe and Australia and appreciated the cooperation of the state government to make necessary arrangements.
Glad to facilitate return of Maharashtra residents from abroad.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 18, 2020
Planes from UK, US, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Phillipines, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Ethiopia & Oman have already come. https://t.co/LoP2zDzkvK
According to the SOP, those who wish to return to India must register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded, along with necessary details as prescribed by the Ministry of External Affairs. They will have to travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights that will be arranged by the Civil Aviation Ministry (MoCA) and naval ships to be arranged by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). Only those crew/staff, who have tested negative for COVID-19, will be allowed to operate the flight/ship.
The MHA said priority will be given to compelling cases in distress including migrant workers/labourers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with the expiry of visa, persons with medical emergencies/ pregnant women/ elderly, those required to return to India due to death of family member and students. The cost of travel, as specified by the MoCA and DMA will be borne by such travellers.
Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 count reached 96,169. Of these 36,823 have been cured & 3,029 have died. The country has extended the nationwide lockdown till May 31 with a new set of guidelines issued by the MHA. Issuing a nine-page guideline, the Union Home Ministry listed the dos and don'ts during the lockdown 4.0. Ahead of the nationwide lockdown, five states - Punjab, Mizoram, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana had already extended their state lockdown as cases soared, while Karanataka had extended its lockdown till May 19.
(Image credits: PTI)