Operation Samudra Setu begins! Largest-ever evacuation set in motion by India as INS Jalashwa reaches Maldives

By: |
May 7, 2020 2:39 PM

“The nearest Indian port is around 1000 km away from the Maldives. And the INS Jalashwa travels 30 km per hour. It will take around one and a half days for the passengers to reach India. They will be tested for COVID-19 and will be handed over to the state authorities who will send them to quarantine and onward travels.”

Operation Samudra Setu, indian navy, INS Jalashwa, Vande Bharat Mission, covid 19, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Cochin International Airport Limited, maldivesAs per the government order, only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to board either the flights or the ships and the travel has to be paid for.

The Indian Navy ship INS Jalashwa enters into Male’ port for the 1st phase under Operation Samudra Setu to repatriate Indians from the Maldives. Confirming the arrival of the INS Jalashwa, a senior officer said, “The ship is in anchorage. And the Indian passengers will be ferried to the INS Jalashwa on small boats. Once all 700-800 passengers are on board after strictly following Standard Operating Procedures related to COVID-19, the ship will turn around to travel back to India.”

“The nearest Indian port is around 1000 km away from the Maldives. And the INS Jalashwa travels 30 km per hour. It will take around one and a half days for the passengers to reach India. They will be tested for COVID-19 and will be handed over to the state authorities who will send them to quarantine and onward travels.”

Also, people of Maldives come for medical treatment to India. “There is no clarity yet if there are any patients who will come onboard the Indian ship,” said the official quoted above.

As has been reported earlier, Indian Navy ships have also been dispatched to bring back stranded Indians. As per the government order, only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to board either the flights or the ships and the travel has to be paid for. “Whether the passenger is boarding a flight or the ship, they have to pay for it,” said the official.

Flights taking off

Starting tonight almost 15,000 stranded Indians will be returning on special flights to be operated by the national carrier Air India. These flights will start from today and over one week get back passengers from 12 countries as part of “Vande Bharat Mission”.

According to Ministry of Civil Aviation 64 flights will take off today to repatriate Indians stranded in various countries. They will be carrying passengers back to Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.

On day one of evacuation, according to sources four flights from the Gulf countries are going to reach Kochi and Kozhikode airport. There are around 200 passengers each on flights coming in from Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Dubai and Doha.

One flight is reaching Delhi from Malaysia and two flights will be landing in Mumbai from the UK and Singapore. On landing, all the passengers will be screened and will have to go to quarantine facilities set up by the state authorities.

This exercise of bringing back stranded Indians from across the globe is going to be the largest ever in history.

It has been decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to operate 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK. Also, Air India will despatch five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore and two will go to Qatar and these will start repatriation of Indian nationals between May 7-13.

There are plans to send seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, and there will be five flights each to Kuwait and Philippines, two flights each to Oman and Bahrain.

On these non-scheduled commercial flights, from Saturday on flights from the US there will be a computerised draw of lots as there are limited seats.

According to the Indian Mission in the US, “Those passengers with the `compelling cases’ who are pregnant women, students, those facing medical emergencies or requiring return due to bereavement in the family, elderly or those facing expiry of visas will be given priority.”

The flights will come from San Francisco to Mumbai and Hyderabad on May 9 and this will be followed by a flight from there to land in Delhi and Bengaluru.

Passengers from the Gulf

In Kochi, the first set of Indian nationals are coming back from the Gulf countries and amidst elaborate arrangements made by the state, the passengers will land at Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL).

The first flight will have around 176 passengers from Abu Dhabi. The flight will be fully disinfected and will be sent to a special parking bay and the passengers will be examined using thermal scanners and will be sent to quarantine.

In Delhi, the airport has been readied to receive over 3,600 evacuees, whose flights will land at Terminal 3 and there will not be more than three flights a day landing at the airport.

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