Dubai: Free tickets are being offered by philanthropists and businessmen based in the UAE for deserving Indians who want to fly home.
Repatriation ticket prices have been set at around Dh700 to Dh750 per person depending on the destination. But there are many in UAE who cannot afford it, especially people who have lost their jobs or have medical concerns.
Malayalam Communications Ltd and its Malayalam stations (Kairali TV & Kairali News) are giving away 1,000 tickets free. Those who wish to apply can submit their application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indian businessman Dhananjay Datar, chairman & managing director of Al Adil Trading Company, is also giving away 300 tickets. He is liasing with the Consulate General of India (CGI) for the names. “This is the time we need to rise as a community,” he said.
Besides taking care of airfares, Datar will also bear the cost of COVID-19 testing fees for Indians from the UAE.
“The repatriation efforts undertaken by the government of India is one of the largest initiatives. I am just doing a small bit to help the community. There are many people who are not in a position to meet the airfare and COVID testing costs as they have lost jobs. I will be coordinating with authorised entities handing this to lend my support,” he said.
Pravasi India Forum, a welfare organisation in UAE, is giving away 100 tickets. The NGO on Monday, May 11, uploaded a registration form where people can provide their details. “Tickets will be given to those approved by CGI and for those who are in financial distress,” said Abulaise, president of Pravasi Welfare Forum.
Punnakan Mohammed Ali, general secretary Incas UAE committee, said it is also ready to give away hundreds of free tickets but only to genuine candidates. “We will evaluate each individual and only if they are approved by the consulate, we will give the tickets. But we are ready to help.”
Those who want to register can get more details on www.pravasiwelfareforum.com.They can also call 055-1025611.
Need for more flights
The gesture notwithstanding, many Indians are still waiting to get news on their repatration.
Social worker Shukoorali Kallangal, President, Abu Dhabi Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), urged the government of India to add more flights to accommodate more passengers.
“Emergency repatriation services are the need of the hour. There are several expats with medical, financial distress. For those who came with the hope of a job – that too is a thing of the past now. Right now all they want is to go home and start something afresh there.”
Kallangal said: “Take the case of pregnant women. In many cases, their husbands have lost jobs or have been asked to go on unpaid leave. They are living hand to mouth and cannot afford medical costs. Due consideration should be given to them.”
Sreedharan Prasad, another social worker based in Ras Al Khaimah, said he is currently dealing with several emergency medical cases.
Consul General of India Vipul said plans are afoot to add more flights in the next phase of Indian repatriation. “The number of flights are being decided by India in consultation with state governments. This is not a normal situation we all are in. We are in the middle of a pandemic situation.”
- With inputs from Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter