Mumbai airport. One of the two flight is bound for Mumbai, while the other is headed to Pune Image Credit: Rex Features

Dubai: The first two charter flights from the UAE to the state of Maharashtra, India, will be leaving with 180 passengers each on June 13 and June 14, after considerable efforts made by members of the Maharashtrian community in the UAE.

Talking to Gulf News, Rahul Tulpule, businessman and vice-president of the Maharashtrian Business Forum, who liaised with the Indian Consulate and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in India to make this possible, explained how it all started. The two flights are bound for Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra.

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Rahul Tulpule Image Credit: Supplied

“A few weeks ago I came across a Facebook video post of a Marathi expatriate, Dhanashree Patil, who had created a group of distressed Maharashtrian people in the UAE affected by the COVID-19 situation. The video hit me instantly. I called the woman immediately to offer any assistance that I could.”

Patil, who took it upon herself to get in touch with several stranded people from Maharashtra and counsel them, told Gulf News: “We could see that the in the last few days, Vande Bharat mission had organised many flight to the southern state of Kerala. I came across many desperate Maharashtrian expatriates – pregnant women whose husbands had lost their jobs and they could not afford a child’s delivery here and old and sick people stranded on visit visas, who wanted to go home. I decided to make this appeal for help through a video. It worked and Tulpule contacted me.”

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Dhanashree Patil Image Credit: Supplied

Tulpule worked closely with the Indian Consulate, getting the list of people who had registered for repatriation to Maharashtra. He said he also worked to liase with the Maharashtra Government and the Ministry of External Affairs in India to get the necessary approvals. Once the approvals got through, these two flights to Mumbai and Pune were chartered from Fly Dubai with a ticket cost of Dh1,150 per head. These are the first chartered evacuation flights to Maharashtra from Dubai, he said.

Tulpule added that both the flights were going full. “Passengers will have to undergo the rapid COVID-19 test at the Dubai airport and upon landing will have to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine (seven days at a paid hotel accommodation and seven days at home). In addition, they will have to mandatorily download the Indian government’s health care app Arogya Setu. Indian sim cards will be available for purchase at the airports to assist the passengers in downloading the apps. In addition, there will be several other procedures to be followed, which the passengers will be guided once they land in India,” he added.

Indian expatriates from the state of Maharashtra wanting to be repatriated can register themselves with the Indian mission on the registration portal: www.cgidubai.gov.in or www.indembassyuae.gov.in