– globalbihari bureau
Kochi: In all 698 Indian nationals including women, elderly people and children, who were stranded at Maldives, arrived at Kochi harbor by Indian warship INS Jalashwa, on Sunday around 10 am.
The repatriation completed today was the first part of the operation, as a continuation of which, another amphibious ship, INS Magar, based at Kochi left Male today even as heavy rains at Male made conditions difficult. A total of 202 personnel embarked the ship, which included 24 women, two expectant mothers and two children. One of the men, who hails from Tamil Nadu, had a fractured leg.
This entire exercise is part of Vande Bharat Mission of the Government of India for repatriation of Indian nationals from the Middle East and Maldives in the backdrop of CoViD 19 pandemic.
INS Jalashwa, deployed for “Operation Samudra Setu”, had sailed from Maldives, late evening on May 8, post completion of all embarkation formalities. “All necessary measures were taken by the respective teams to ensure safe embarkation with minimal social contact. Adequate care was also taken to cater for the old aged people, pregnant ladies and children in arms during the trip,” the defence ministry stated today, adding that all the passengers were handled by trained Indian Navy personnel donning Personal Protective Equipment.
The evacuation operation was conducted in accordance with all Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines issued by the Indian government. The passengers were received by the naval and civil administration authorities present at the Cruise Terminal of Cochin Port Trust, where the ship has berthed.
Extensive arrangements have been put in place by the State Government for speedy completion of CoViD screening and immigration formalities at the Cruise Terminal. Glassed counters have been set up at the terminal in accordance with medical protocol for Customs, Immigration, Police, Health department, BSNL and District Administration. In addition, baggage trolleys for the passengers were arranged from Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), all aimed at facilitating speedy disembarkation, segregation and completion of all health and medical formalities in an efficient manner.
INS Jalashwa, based at Visakhapatnam has been at the forefront of similar evacuation efforts of Indian nationals and major Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts of the Indian Navy. The ship is designed to carry troops and the facilities onboard were modified for the ongoing evacuation. She is manned by trained medical teams of the Indian Navy, specifically embarked for the ongoing Operation.