THE government will be evacuating Indian nationals stranded overseas from May 7 onwards. Making the announcement Monday, the Union Home Ministry said the Indians who have “compelling” reasons to return would be brought back in a “phased manner”.
Sources said the process is expected to begin from the Gulf, where there are nearly eight million Indians living and working.
The return of those stranded will be faciliated on “payment” basis, the government said, with only those who are asymptomatic and clear a medical screening to be allowed on board. They would be transported on aircraft and naval ships.
As reported by The Indian Express on April 26, this comes after weeks of petitions by the stranded Indians, with the support of several state governments.
It could be India’s largest evacuation ever, with up to two lakh expected to seek return. Sources said they would prioritise passengers on the basis of factors such as their need, medical condition, urgency and a state government’s capacity to handle those returning in terms of COVID protocols.
A Standard Operating Protocol has been prepared for the evacuation, the ministry said. “Indian Embassies and High Commissions are preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens. This facility would be made available on payment-basis.
Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel,” the statement said.
During the journey, the passengers would be required to follow protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Civil Aviation. “On reaching, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu app. Everyone 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 government. COVID test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols,” the government said, adding detailed information would be shared by the Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation on their websites.
The Home Ministry said it was also in touch with states over arrangements for their testing, quarantine and onward movement home.