Mangaluru, May 22: Following requests from Kannadiga entrepreneurs in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and persistant efforts of former deputy chairperson of the NRI Forum of Karnataka government Dr Arathi Krishna, the government of India has finally approved the repatriation of stranded Indian expatriate workers amidst prolonged covid-19 lockdown through chartered flights arranged by their employing companies particularly in Gulf region and elsewhere.
The government has also issued a Standard Operation Protocol (SOP) to be followed to be followed by those who hire the flights. The government's nod will not only allow repatriation of larger number of citizens, who are on wait-lists, but also allows private airlines to get their aircraft, crew, and operational staff actively working again in preparation for resumption of scheduled flights.
Zakaria Jokatte, CEO of Al-Muzain Est. and K S Sheik, Director of Operations at Expertise Contracting Co. Ltd - both Mangalurean entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia - were among those who had sought permission to hire chartered flights for the immediate repatriation of their hundreds of employees.
The NRI entrepreneurs in Gulf have thanked Dr Arathi Krishna for continuously persuading the authorities concerned to issue green signal for the operation of chartered flight at a time when there were only a few scheduled flights under Vande Bharat Mission.
Welcoming the move Dr Arathi Krishna told coastaldigst.com that Indians stranded in any foreign country can utilize this facility. "Initially, I was approached by Mr Zakaria and Mr Sheik who wanted chartered flights to help their employees fly back to India. I asked them to write to the Indian Ambassador in Saudi Araia Mr Ausaf Sayeed. Then I requested the ambassador to forward the request to Joint Secretary Dr Nagendra Prasad, who is in charge of gulf division in the Ministry of External Affairs, and then to Secretary on charge of Gulf and then I requested Secretary of Economic Relations Mr T S Tirumurti who was also in charge of Gulf to follow this up," she said.
"There were similar requests for chartered flights from African countries too. Then I persisted officers constantly to take it up to the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and now all the people requesting this from Saudi Arabia have got confirmation from the ministry and communicated by embassy to those who had requested for the chartered flights," she said.
Efforts yield results; Govt approves operation of charter flights to repatriate Indians from Gulf, other regions