Muscat: As the fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights starts, many Indian expatriates in Oman have started packing their bags as they bid goodbye to a country that had been their home for years.
“The announcement of the flights came at an opportune time when we had just received our due payments. As they say Eid heralds good tidings, and I hope we are able to start afresh in India,” Faizal Osman, who hails from Kerala, said. Faizal was working in a financial institution in Muscat, when he received a notice terminating his services in April.
Many like Faizal, who had lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been without a salary since April. “When I look around me, I feel I am among the few lucky ones that got part settlement of the dues in May itself. That helped me run the expenses for the last couple of months.”
Vijay Menon, another Indian from Kerala had sent his family through one of the earlier VBM flight, while he stayed back to sell his car and the other household stuff that he had accumulated over the past two decades. “There were a lot of things like furniture, electronic gadgets and clothes that we had bought over our stay in Muscat, over the past 20 years. Even after packing most of it, there still were stuff for one more container,” Vijay said, adding that he could dispose of most of the wares through online platforms and through his friends.
With abysmal volume of business and not much clarity on the pandemic situation in the foreseeable future, several organisations were forced to trim the workforce leading to many expatriates losing their jobs.
Anuj Swarup, Second Secretary, at Indian Embassy in Oman, speaking to Gulf News in this context said that the Vande Bharat Mission from Oman that started on May 9 has operated till date a total 105 flights, enabling more than 18,000 Indian nationals to return to India.
“In addition to this more than 38,000 Indian nationals have travelled to India on 216 charter flights operated by social organisations and various other organisations. Embassy of India is grateful for the cooperation and support of the Oman government and the Government of India. We would also like to acknowledge the support and help of social organisations and social workers across Oman in helping with repatriation of Indian nationals.
“As we glide into Phase 5 of Vande Bharat Mission, a total 19 flights have been scheduled in the first half of August to various Indian states. Flights have been scheduled as per the registrations received by the Embassy and we will continue to facilitate travel of Indian nationals,” Anuj said.