Kerala

Evacuation of stranded Indians not feasible, Centre tells HC

Court adjourns to April 21 the petition for further hearing

The Centre on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that given the present situation in the country and the available limited resources in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, it is not feasible to selectively evacuate Indian citizens from abroad.

The submission was made when a public interest litigation seeking a directive to the Central government to evacuate the Indians stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came up for hearing before a Division Bench. The petition was filed by Ibrahim Elettil, president, Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), Dubai, and another person.

In a statement filed in response to the petition, the Centre submitted that bringing back stranded Indians to different regions of the country posed a grave risk, as majority of countries across the world now had reported cases of COVID-19.

It was true that the Centre had initially undertaken some evacuation of Indian nationals as also nationals of other countries from China, Japan, Iran and Italy when the situation was not so grim. Many of those brought back were subjected to quarantine. However, taking into account the present situation and the available limited resources, it was not feasible to selectively evacuate Indian citizens from abroad, the Centre told the court

As for the expired tourist and transit visas of those stranded, the UAE government had clarified that all people whose visas expired after March 1 would have their visas extended without any penalty till May 31 or till the resumption of international flights, whichever is earlier, the Centre said.

The Centre also submitted that wherever possible, High Commissioners were interacting with the Indian community through virtual platforms for their engagement in this time of crisis and to provide them assistance. Besides, nodal officers had been identified and designated at each Mission/Posts to provide assistance to Indian nationals abroad and 24×7 helpline numbers and emails had also been made functional for this purpose. Centre was proactively taking steps to ensure safety, welfare and well being of the Indian nationals abroad.

The Bench adjourned to April 21 the petition for further hearing.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:46:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/evacuation-of-stranded-indians-not-feasible-centre-tells-hc/article31368166.ece

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