Vande Bharat Mission: More hype than relief

So far, mere 2,000 Indians were repatriated from UAE under Vande Bharat Mission which is still a drop in ocean as more than two lakh Indians are in waiting to return home

By Author  |  Published: 18th May 2020  8:37 pm

Jeddah: A young software professional from Hyderabad Mannem Murali Krishna in Riyadh and an illiterate labour, a tribal youth of Nizamabad district, Dharavat Naresh in Dubai are among the two lakh plus registered worldwide Indians who intend to return home in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic crisis all over the world. But ladyluck seems to be eluding them as their names do not figure in the list enabling them to return to India. And they do not have nay clue about the possibility of their boarding the much awaited flight to home.

Special flights as part of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, a much publicised repatriation programme launched by the Centre, is turning to be insufficient to ferry all distressed and desperate Indians from foreign countries to India. Contrary to its wider publicity, the programme has only helped a small fraction of NRIs with their own cost that too a bit expensive. The boarding of the flight is often chaotic as it is notified just two days prior to departure and some were informed merely a few hours before the departure of the flights.

Faced with the uncertainty caused by the lockdown, job losses and pay cuts, scores of NRIs are making desperate attempts to return home from Gulf countries. Besides, those who lost jobs, pregnant women and the sick have been running from pillar to post to get back home but only few turned out to be the lucky ones as their names were found in the list of people to be flown back to India. Indian missions in the Gulf region have been flooded with requests from NRIs for repatriation. Since almost all applicants have genuine reasons as guidelines laid down by New Delhi, it turned out to be a herculean task for diplomats to draw the list.

The number of Indians who can reach home under Vande Bharat Mission is still a drop in the ocean, the special evacuation flights repatriated merely 2,000 passengers so far from UAE while more than two lakh Indians registered their names to return home.

In the first phase, which ended on Sunday, only two flights operated to Hyderabad from Gulf region that ferried less than 300 people and there was no flight from Saudi Arabia, largest country that houses Telangana NRIs in the region to Hyderabad. Hyderabad has received eight flights from all over the world that brought about 1,200 people including from Gulf region.

In the second phase, 16 flights out of 149 being operated to Hyderabad, that ferry about 2,500 people. Unlike in the first phase, second phase flights schedule to ferry from all six-nations of GCC to Hyderabad.

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