The first phase of the repatriation campaign of India, Vande Bharat Mission, is reaching midway. Almost a week after the mission got underway on May 7, 2020, more than 8,500 people have successfully reached their homes. However, the massive campaign did not avoid some issues along the line.
According to the initial plans, the repatriation mission aimed to bring 15,000 Indians back. During the first stage of the mission, India’s flag carrier Air India, supported by the subsidiary Air India Express, was to perform 64 flights.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation in India revealed on May 12, 2020, that 31 flights were already completed, bringing a total of 6,037 Indian citizens back to India. As of May 13, 8,500 Indians have supposedly reached their homes, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri confirms.
In 1st phase of Vande Bharat we were to bring back 14,800 Indians on 64 flights. 8500 Indians have already returned till this morning. More flights are underway.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 13, 2020
In the 2nd phase the numbers are being doubled. 30,000 more Indians will return from 31 countries on 149 flights. pic.twitter.com/2ysniHHw04
However, not all flights have gone according to the plan. On May 10, 2020, Air India Express flight that was slated to carry 181 passengers from Kozhikode to Doha was canceled for technical reasons, local media reported.
The first phase of the operation spans to 12 countries: the UK, the USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait. Aside from journeys to India, the mission also includes special flights for people currently located in India. They can fly out of the country to three directions: the US, UK, and Singapore.
The second phase of the mission, not officially confirmed yet, is expected to take place from May 16 to May 22. It is conjectured to deploy 149 flights, repatriating Indian nationals from 31 countries.
Apart from the 15,000 people to be evacuated in the first week, the Indian Navy actually talks about a much bigger number of 1.8 million people awaiting repatriation, according to Bloomberg. In such case, the Indian evacuation mission would definitely get ahead of the biggest UK peacetime repatriation since the World War “Operation Matterhorn”.