Nearly 9.5 lakh Indians have returned from abroad under the government’s “Vande Bharat” evacuation mission, making it the largest sustained operation for the repatriation of Indians stranded overseas, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.
The mission was launched on May 7 in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are nearing the 1 million-mark in the Vande Bharat Mission, making this the largest sustained operation for the repatriation of stranded Indians,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing.
“As on date, nearly 9.5 lakh Indians have returned home under this mission. We are presently in phase 5 which was operationalised from August 1,” he said.
Based on the assessment of demand received from Indian missions, the schedule has been augmented with the addition of nearly 60 more flights, Mr Srivastava said.
This takes the total flights scheduled this month to 746 and, in addition, around 200 domestic feeder flights are scheduled to reach 24 airports across India, he said.
This phase is expected to repatriate more than 1,30,000 Indians stranded abroad, he added.
The bilateral arrangements for establishing travel bubbles with the US, Germany and France continue to be in place. “Multiple flights are operating from these countries and are providing onward connections,” Mr Srivastava said.
The Civil Aviation Ministry is in discussion with some other countries to operationalise similar arrangements, the MEA spokesperson said.