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Vande Bharat 3 after June 13, private airlines may be included: Centre

NEW DELHI: The second of Vande Bharat Mission to bring back stranded Indians from abroad will be extended to June 13 and will cover 47 countries, the Centre said on Thursday, adding that planning for the third phase is on. The second phase was to end on May 22.

“Private airlines are likely to be included in the third phase. We are still working on the schedule,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. “In this (extended second) phase, we are including places like Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh city, Lagos, etc. and increasing flights to the US and Europe. We are also looking at developing Frankfurt as a hub,” Srivastava said.

India is also bringing back its nationals from far-flung areas like Argentina, South Africa, Peru, Mongolia, etc. Flights from Buenos Aires, Djibouti, Hong Kong, and Iran’s Mahaan Air have brought in “our nationals stranded in those places” he said. As of May 21, a total of 23,475 Indians nationals have been brought back.

“They include 4,883 workers, 4,196 students and 3,087 professionals among others,” Srivastava said. A total of 2,59,001 people have registered to return from 98 countries.  Of these 28% are workers, 25% of students, 14.5% professionals, and 7.6% short-term visa holders.

“Among those with compelling reasons registered to return, 16,991 are those facing medical emergencies and 8,746 pregnant women and elderly persons,” Srivastava said.  

He said the MEA and Indian missions abroad are working closely with the ministries of civil aviation, home, and health and State governments for this large and complex evacuation exercise. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)