As a part of the Centre government’s plan to repatriate stranded Indians abroad due to COVID-19 outbreak, Indian Navy has launched Operation “Samudra Setu” (Sea Bridge) to bring back 1000 Indians from Maldives. In this regard, Indian Navy has sent two India Naval Ships (INS) viz. Jalashwa and Magar on May 5, 2020 to Maldives capital Male to commence the first phase of the evacuation operations of Indians stranded abroad from May 8, 2020.
- The operation Samudra Setu is being progressed in close coordination with Ministries of Defence (MoD), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and various other agencies of the government of India and state governments.
About India’s biggest evacuation plan focused on ‘Vande Bharat Mission’
The Centre government has initiated India’s biggest evacuation plan to bring back its citizens stranded in foreign countries since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The immediate focus of the multi-agency operation (mentioned above) ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ will be to bring back Indians from the Gulf, countries in the neighbourhood as well as from the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore.
- After the first phase, two other ships are expected to set sail for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Evacuation through flights:
For a period of 1 week, Air India (AI) is set to operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded in 12 countries including Middle East, UK, US, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Bangladesh.
- The first AI flight will be from Abu Dhabi in the UAE carrying around 200 passengers with the destination being Kochi in Kerala.
- Individuals will be charged for the travel.
- Private Indian airlines may join the effort after May 13.
Safety measures to be taken during evacuation
Individuals will be screened before boarding and only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed. Upon arrival, they will be screened by the concerned state authorities and then sent to home or institutional quarantine. COVID-19 tests would be conducted after 14 days of the quarantine period.
INS Jalashwa (L41):
Procured in 2005 from the United States (US), it was commissioned in Indian Navy in 2007. Formerly known as USS Trenton, is an amphibious landing dock capable of carrying over 1,000 people.
INS Magar (L20):
Commissioned in 1987, INS Magar is the lead ship of Magar-class amphibious warfare vessels of the Indian Navy.She was built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata, West Bengal.INS Magar is capable of carrying around 500 troops.
Currency– Maldivian rufiyaa
President– Ibrahim Mohamed Solih