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Combating coronavirus: 160 expats in India seek permission to hire chartered flight to UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on July 2, 2020 | Last updated on July 2, 2020 at 08.39 pm
Combating, covid19, coronavirus, 160 expats, India, seek permission, hire, chartered flight, UAE

(Supplied photo)

Ratna, a Dubai resident since 2015, has been stuck in India for over three months.

A large group of Indian expats stranded in India, predominantly from Hyderabad city, have sent letters to various government organisations and airlines in India, seeking permission to charter a flight from India to Ras Al Khaimah.

Ratna Vadapalli, an Indian expat who has taken up the matter with the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry, and Ganesh Rayapudi, a UAE-based businessman whose son Suhas Rayapudi, is stranded in Hyderabad, are among those seeking permission.

The Abu Dhabi-based Telangana Friends Association, headed by Raja Srinivasa Rao Aita, wrote a letter to G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home Affairs, to appeal to the Civil Aviation Ministry to give the group permission to fly. Khaleej Times has seen copies of the letters the group has sent to various authorities.

All members of the group championing the cause have received required travel approvals from the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). However, the group is extremely concerned as their approvals are nearing expiry date and the possibility of immediate travel is nowhere in sight.

Ratna, a Dubai resident since 2015, has been stuck in India for over three months. He said: "We have a group of 160 people who are stuck in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. We approached local representative G Kishan Reddy to forward our request to the central government. It has been 10 days since we filed the request, but no one is willing to listen to us."

A very frustrated Ratna said: "I came here on a three-day trip. When we went to the Air India office, the officials there suggested we take a flight from New Delhi to New York and fly to Dubai. They are asking us to take a 20-hour flight to get to Dubai. Every time there is a calamity in India, NRIs have come forward to help in every way possible. Now, we feel abandoned."

Rayapudi said the group had negotiated with SpiceJet, who have said they are willing to fly the passengers. "We have approached SpiceJet, various ministries in India and the Indian missions in the UAE. We have not had a positive response from anyone," said Rayapudi.

He added: "Many of the ICA approvals are expiring on July 4. The ones stranded in India have to fly as soon as possible. What if we do not get a new set of approvals.

"There are no modalities in place for those stranded in India. There is no official SOP at the moment. Many of the students stranded in India, like my son, are emotionally exhausted. They are losing hope. We appeal to the Government of India to allow our loved ones to come home immediately."

Amrutaa Tilak, a homemaker who went to India on January 25 to attend a family function and attend a court hearing on March 18, said: "My husband has started going to work and our 12-year-old son is alone at home for over 12 hours a day. Here in India also, I am living alone. I need to join back my family as soon as possible to support my son's needs."

Nikhila Revuri, another Dubai expat, said she went to India as her mother-in-law had suffered a heart attack. "My husband is a doctor who is working in the UAE 24 hours a day. I need to be there for my kids," she said. 


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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