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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kochi shopping complex association wants to fund chartered flight to bring home people from Gulf

The Penta Menaka Owners Welfare Association, which runs the glitzy decades-old shopping complex in the heart of Kochi home to primarily cell phone retail and servicing shops, has been flooded with calls over the past week from expatriates who are stranded in Gulf countries.

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi | Updated: May 9, 2020 8:49:41 pm
coronavirus, India coronavirus news, coronavirus india news, coronavirus latest news, live news, corona news, corona latest news, india coronavirus, coronavirus live news, coronavirus latest news in india, coronavirus live update, covid 19 tracker, covid 19 tracker live, corona cases in india, corona cases in india, coronavirus latest news in india, corona cases in india, coronavirus vaccine, covid 19 vaccine Vande Bharat Mission: A pregnant woman with her child at the Kochi airport after being repatriated from Abu Dhabi in a special flight Thursday (Source: PR Dept, Gov of Kerala)

With hundreds of people still stranded in the Gulf countries unable to afford the flight tickets to India as part of the Vande Bharat repatriation efforts, a shopping complex association in Kerala’s Kochi has decided to pool in funds to manage expenses of a chartered flight to bring them home.

The Penta Menaka Owners Welfare Association, which runs the glitzy decades-old shopping complex in the heart of Kochi home to primarily cell phone retail and servicing shops, has been flooded with calls over the past week from expatriates who are stranded in Gulf countries unable to pay for the flight tickets home. Currently, the Vande Bharat repatriation mission of the Indian government requires those opting to travel to pay for the tickets. To do it’s bit and to encourage others, the owners association of the shopping complex collectively agreed to raise money to charter a flight so that the most vulnerable sections of the expatriates could be brought home without imposing any financial burdens on them. Follow India evacuation LIVE updates | Coronavirus India Live

Passengers debaord from Air India Express flight IX 474 from Bahrain at Kochi airport on Friday. (Souce: PRO/Govt of Kerala)

Yasir Arafath, secretary of the association, told The Indian Express that he’s in touch with the Indian Consulate in Dubai as well as officials of the Kerala government to make a deal. Several persons, including those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic have registered with the consulate in Dubai but are unable to come home. The association hopes to help such people, he said.

“Once the consulate makes a priority list of passengers and gives a letter to Air India, we will get a quote of the estimated cost of the flight. We are ready to hand over the funds to the Kerala government which can be routed to Air India,” said Arafath, adding that they have managed to pool in Rs 25 lakhs for the same.

Read | Fare’s fair: Govt on charge for evacuation by ship

“We are taking this initiative with the hope that it would inspire other organisations to pool in funds and arrange chartered flights to bring our people home,” he said.

coornavirus, covid 19, covid 19 news, india mega evacuation, vande bharat mission, Evacuation operation of Indians, airlift of indians, coronavirus, coronavirus live, indian evacuation, cochin airport, indians stuck abroad, india coronavirus, coronavirus india news, latest news, india news, covid 19 news Passengers arrive in Kochi and Kozhikode in Kerala have been kept in quarantine. In pic: A passenger at Cochin airporting arriving from Abu Dhabi (Source: PRD, Gov of Kerala)

Arafath said the funds they have pooled in are a result of savings that the association built up over the years, from rental tariffs and advertising revenues. There are over 260 shops in the complex, employing nearly 1,000 people.

“Many people who run shops in the complex are those who used to work in Gulf in the past and have now settled here. Naturally, they are emotionally connected to the expatriate community there and have been wanting to help. This is a tough financial situation for us but we have to do this to bring many of our people home,” he said.

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