New Delhi– The Indian government is going to operate 149 flights to bring back Indians from abroad in the second phase of the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, India’s biggest ever evacuation exercise.
This was revealed by the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava. The repatriation of Indian nationals stuck abroad was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in most countries of the world.
The Vande Bharat Mission, which began on May 7, has so far brought back over 12,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries on 56 flights.
In the second phase of the mission from May 16-22, the spokesperson said, the government will bring back Indians from 31 countries. Till now, 188,646 Indian nationals have registered to return.
“We are broadening the ambit every week in a phased manner, keeping with our quarantine capacity, health protocols, etc.,” Srivastava said, adding that 149 flights, including feeder flights, will be deployed for the second leg of the mission.
Additional 18 countries to covered under the second phase include Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Krgyzstan, Belarus, Georgia, Tajikistan and Armenia.
As part of Mission Sagar, which is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision, the government has sent Indian naval ships to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. The ship has been sent in keeping with India’s role as a first responder in the region. It carries onboard two medical assistance teams, consignment of Covid-19 related essential medicines and essential food items, the spokesperson said.
INS Kesari, which departed India on May 10, is presently docked at Male. Currently, 550 tonnes of essential food items sent on board area are being off loaded.
“This gesture has been widely appreciated by the people of Maldives. Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Defence Minister Mariya Didi together participated in a virtual handing over ceremony along with our High Commissioner,” Srivastava said.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister have also issued messages commending India’s friendship and assistance for the food security of Maldives during the holy month of Ramadan, he said.
In the first week of the Vande Bharat Mission, 904 Indians were repatriated from Maldives by INS Jalashwa and INS Magar on May 10 and May 12, respectively. Some others have arrived through deportation flights from various countries. (IANS)