Cops want AI to keep its Noida-resident, Vande Bharat Mission crew in Delhi during ops

Noida (UP), May 8 (PTI) The Gautam Buddh Nagar police has requested Air India to station its Noida and Greater Noida-resident crew members, engaged in ‘Bande Bharat Mission’ to fly back Indians stuck up abroad amid the Covid-19 lockdown, in Delhi itself for the period of the operation, officials said on Friday.

The request has been made because Gautam Buddh Nagar, adjoining Delhi, falls in 'Red Zone' and the to-and-fro movement of the flight crew may increase the risk of the spread of coronavirus infection, the officials said.

With India launching a massive evacuation operation to fly back thousands of citizens stranded abroad due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, the national carrier, Air India, would be operating 64 repatriation flights for a week from May 7.

From Gulf countries to Malaysia and the UK to the US, the multi-agency operation christened 'Vande Bharat Mission' will see the state-owned airline operate non-scheduled commercial flights till May 13 to ferry around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Shriparna Ganguli said following a Union Home Ministry directive dated May 1, and another one from the secretary to the Ministry of Health, dated April 30, a request has been made to Air India’s Chairman-cum- Managing Director Rajiv Bansal to follow the standard operating procedures issued by the Union Home Ministry on May 5.

“It may be noted that a large number of Air India crew members are staying in Gautam Buddh Nagar, and they would be performing their duties in bringing back Indian citizens stuck in other countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“And to perform their duties, they will frequently go to Delhi and come back to their respective homes in Gautam Buddh Nagar, which may trigger the spread of coronavirus infection,” the officer was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Since Gautam Buddh Nagar falls under 'Red Zone', a request has been made to the Air India CMD to accommodate the crew members in Delhi itself. They might come back to Gautam Buddh Nagar after the completion of this operation and after following the protocol laid down by the Centre,” the officer added.

She said after consulting the district administration and the state’s additional chief secretary (Home) in this regard, a request has been made to the Air India CMD that crew members may be stationed in New Delhi during this operation.

Gautam Buddh Nagar has recorded 214 positive cases of coronavirus including one death, and is one of the worst Covid-hit districts in Uttar Pradesh. In a bid to contain the coronavirus spread, the district administration had also sealed its border with Delhi last month, banning movement between the two cities except for those under medical emergency or engaged in fight against coronavirus infection or essential supplies, besides doctors and media personnel. PTI KIS RAX RAX