‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to be expanded to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad

‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to be expanded to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad


India will expand the scope of the repatriation of Indians nationals stranded due to the covid-19 crisis from the current 12 countries to include countries in Europe and Central Asia besides Russia and Thailand in the second phase of “Vande Bharat Mission”, two people familiar with the development said Friday.

The second phase will start from 15 May and will focus on those countries with substantive concentrations of Indian student population besides others, one of the people cited above said.

“For the second week beginning from 15th May, we will be looking at expanding the scope of the repatriation to include other places that we have not covered so far – Russia, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States including the Central Asian republics) countries and also countries in Europe which were not earlier on the list – Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain but also Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine where a lot of our students are based, countries like Thailand which were not covered in the first list. So we are expanding the list to more countries with concentrations of Indian citizens who are stranded and the idea is to bring them back,” the person said.

The evacuation is seen as one of the most extensive Indians has ever carried out and possibly beating its own previous record of 177,000 airlifted from Iraq and Kuwait in the 1990s. Currently, a total number of 67,833 requests for repatriation had been registered with students being the largest group making the request, the person said. They constituted 34% or 22,470 of the total. The second largest group was that of migrant workers who made up 30% or 15,815 of the total. The third largest category was of short-term visa holders who were faced with the prospect of the expiry of visas, the person said. Those faced with medical emergency or seeking treatment for terminal illness, tourists stranded abroad, pregnant women and the elderly and those who required to return due to death of a family member were the others who had put in requests, the person said.

On the current phase of the Vande Bharat operation that started on 7 May and expected to be completed by 15 May, the person said a total number of 64 flights carrying approximately 15,000 returnees from 12 countries were expected to land at 14 airports across India

Rohith Kukkadapu

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