The Indian government is making the provisions for repatriation of the stranded people but the cost of the ticket is out of reach for many Indians. Paying 1 lac for the travel and later on additional money for paid institutional quarantine facility is something that everybody cannot afford.
According to the reports, Indian Government is preparing for the second round of its Air India repatriation flights named Vande Bharat Mission for the thousands of India’s stranded in various countries across the globe.
There are around 6000-8000 Indian students stranded in the UK alone and the skyrocketing cost of travel and paid quarantine in the hotels made it difficult for them to travel.
“For many of the 6,000-8,000 Indian students in the UK, the high costs of travel and quarantine have made it difficult for them to return to India; many have lost their part-time jobs,” said Sanam Arora, chairperson of NISAU, an umbrella organisation for Indian students in the UK.
Due to the fault of some people who did not follow the home quarantine guidelines now the government decided to implement strict institutional quarantine for the remaining people returning back into the country.
According to the sources, In March, the government had allowed returnees to do home quarantine, but the plan had failed. For the current lot, depending on the hotel, it costs Rs 4,000-7,000 per day for quarantine stay and three meals, which spikes the return cost by Rs 50,000 or more. Then again, one-way economy class airfare on AI repatriation flight costs about Rs 55,000 for a flight from London, over Rs 1 lakh for a flight from San Francisco and Rs 35,000 from Dubai.
Sydney-based Amit Sharma of Pricebeat Travel, who had handled ticketing for Delhi-Sydney Singapore Airlines repatriation flight, said: “The ticket prices are a bit higher… as they fly empty one way so passengers are paying for a round trip ticket. The only a single sector is used while other sectors remain empty. Also, the tickets are offered at one price in repatriation flights…”
The condition of Indians stranded abroad is very bad at the moment as many of them had already paid for the return tickets and due to the lockdown, their flights got cancelled.
According to Samarth PV who is stranded on Abu Dhabi claims that he has already paid for his return ticket. “I had paid for my April 7 return ticket to Bengaluru on IndiGo, but the flight was cancelled due to lockdown. I have no money to pay for another flight and quarantine charges. I live in a shared space and I yet pay rent for the month. I can afford only one meal a day. I went to the Indian Embassy and to my surprise, it was shut and security personnel posted outside was responding to stranded Indians queries.”
Every week, many Indian students are being evicted from their homes. It’s pitiful, most can’t afford to fly home due to the high costs
Then there are those who are thankful for the repatriation flights. Eighteen-year-old Rahul Sondhi, studying in London, boarded the AI flight to Mumbai, on the day he was evicted by his landlord. “ I was having meals at a community kitchen when my parents bought me the AI ticket back home,” he said. “Every week, many Indian students are being evicted from their homes. It’s pitiful, most can’t afford to fly home due to the high costs.”