India is set to embark on one of the largest rescue operations in the world using the naval platform to bring back Indian nationals stranded abroad. The Indian Navy has launched an operation, known as 'Operation Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge)', to bring back Indians stranded abroad, Navy spokesperson announced on the microblogging site Twitter on Tuesday, May 5.
As part of India's effort to repatriate its citizens from overseas, Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are currently en route to the port of Male, the Maldives to commence evacuation operations from May 8.
The central government has been closely monitoring the situation with respect to the effect of the novel pandemic on our Indians stuck abroad. The Indian Navy has been directed to make suitable preparations for their evacuation by sea, read a statement by the Indian Navy.
1,000 to be evacuated during the first trip
According to reports, the Indian Mission in the Republic of Maldives is preparing a list of Indian nationals to be evacuated by Naval ships and will facilitate their embarkation after the requisite medical screening. As many as 1,000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip, catering for Covid-related social distancing norms vis-a-vis the carrying capacity and medical facilities available onboard.
The ships have been suitably provisioned for carrying out the evacuation operation. The evacuated personnel would be provided the basic amenities and medical facilities during the sea-passage. In view of the unique challenges associated with Covid-19 stringent protocols have also been stipulated.
The evacuated personnel will be disembarked at Kochi, Kerala and entrusted to the care of State authorities. This operation is being progressed in close coordination with Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health and various other agencies of the Government of India and State governments, confirmed the press statement.
Air India to operate 64 repatriation flights from May 7
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today announced that the Air India Group will operate 64 flights to 12 countries to bring back over 14,000 stranded people in 7 days from May 7. Around 14,800 Indian nationals will be brought back during the first week of the mammoth air rescue operation. The total number of people to be repatriated back to India in the entire operations could be over 190,000.