Lockdown: 4,000 Goans from 65 countries seek to return home

Panaji, May 6 (PTI) At least 4,000 Goans from 65 countries have registered themselves on the Goa NRI commission's portal to come back to the country amid the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, state NRI Commissioner Narendra Sawaikar said on Wednesday.

The state NRI commission has shared the data with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Sawaikar told PTI.

Nearly 4,000 people have registered themselves on the Goa NRI portal launched by the commission. They are spread across 65 countries, mostly in the Middle East and the UK, the BJP leader said.

The Goa NRI Commission has urged the MEA to facilitate immediate repatriation of Goans who are stranded abroad.

Sawaikar said Goa does not figure in the first phase of the MEA's repatriation initiative, but its natives are likely to be brought back in the second phase.

The 4,000 people who have registered on the portal include a sizable number of students, some who have lost their jobs and some NRIs' parents who are stranded abroad as they had travelled prior to the lockdown.

Sawaikar said the MEA will give preference to those who have requested to come back under compelling circumstances', the criteria of which will be decided as per their guidelines.

Air India will operate 64 repatriation flights for a week from May 7 while the Navy deployed two ships as India rolled out a massive evacuation plan on Tuesday to bring back thousands of its nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

From the 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 the non- scheduled commercial flights till May 13 to ferry around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

Those availing the repatriation flights will be charged, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday in New Delhi, adding that private Indian airlines may join the repatriation effort after May 13. PTI RPS GK GK