Bhubaneswar: Finally, the Ministry of External Affairs confirms that a direct Air India flight Via Delhi to Bhubaneswar from the Kingdom of Bahrain will take off on 20th June 2020 for the repatriation of stranded Odias affected by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19!
Bahrain Odia Samaj Founder Dr. Arun Kumar Praharaj has conveyed his deepest gratitude to the Honourable Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik, Honourable Petroleum Minister – Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Honourable Minister – Shri Ranendra Pratap Swain, Honourable Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs – Shri Rahul Shrivastava and the Director Commercial of Air India – Ms. Meenakshi Mallik for their sincere efforts to arrange a direct flight under the “Vande Bharat Mission” for the stranded Odias in Bahrain.
Due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, the sufferings of 175 Odia people who have registered for evacuation to Bhubaneswar are immense.
Most of the people who have lost their jobs & are with expired visas are in labour camps since last three months,surviving on community support without any means of sustenance. Some of them have medical issues or have parents suffering from chronic health issues back home or are families with pregnant ladies. Visitors who came to attend their near and dear ones are also stranded unnecessarily. In fact, all are in pitiable
conditions and are desperate to go back to their motherland at the earliest.
Considering the situation, Honourable Union Minister, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan was the first to intervene in this matter. We are deeply obliged and remain indebted to the Honourable Union Minister for the interactive video conferencing session he held with the Gulf Region’s (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Dubai) Odia representatives on 3rd May 2020 and for his recommendations and sincere follow-ups with the
Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation. During this session, the Honourable Minister took note of our problems caused by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and assured to help us overcome issues faced by migrant Odias. In addition to this, he urged all Odia NRIs to constructively contribute and strengthen the economy of Odisha. As a visionary leader, he not only assured to help us but asked us to look beyond COVID-19
and to plan for post-corona scenarios well in advance, as this world will not remain the same. We were truly inspired by his creed to consider “Every threat as an opportunity.”
A very prompt response was also received from our Honourable Minister for Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Co-operation, Shri Ranendra Pratap Swain who immediately provided recommendations to the Nodal Officer of Odisha, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Mr. Rahul Shrivastava for which we are deeply obliged and shall remain forever grateful. During the first interaction itself, he created a deep
bond, making us all his brothers and treating us with utmost love and respect; we now call him Raja Bhaina. Honourable Raja Bhaina arranged
a video conferencing session on 30th May 2020 as per the directives of our Honourable Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik to interact with us and express our solidarity with the frontline corona warriors by singing the state anthem Bande Utkala Janani together. Just before and after the session, he had intense discussions with representatives of 15 nations namely USA, England, Australia, Singapore, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Canada, Norway, South Africa, New Zealand & Germany for an hour to appraise us about the efforts undertaken by the Government of Odisha to fight against COVID-19 pandemic & to understand our issues under the leadership of our Honourable Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik, who is a world renowned disaster management strategist. The interaction was very meaningful, as he obtained our views and firmly assured us to provide every possible support from the Government of Odisha to help the stranded Odias across the world.
Upon our persuasion, he also decided to set up an NRI cell to create a database of Odia NRIs to ensure instant relief during times of distress as well as to seek their participation in the future for various developmental projects in Odisha.
Dr. Praharaj also deeply appreciated the kind efforts of Shri Rahul Shrivatava, The Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs for his commendable support, coordination and prompt processing of the Ministerial recommendations with all relevant authorities to arrange approval for a Direct Air India flight to Bhubaneswar from Bahrain on 20/06/2020. The said historic Air India flight AI 0940 will take off from Bahrain International Airport at Bahrain Standard Time 13.05 hours and Shall land at Delhi at Indian Time 19.20 hours and then shall take off for Bhubaneswar at Indian Standard Time 20.20 HOURS and Finally shall land at Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar at Indian Time 22.20 hours Via Delhi. At Delhi our Odia Passengers shall remain seated in the flight, as confirmed by the Director Commercial of Air India.
Dr. Praharaj said, “It is a great example of cooperation between the Central Government of India and the State of Odisha in coordination with Air India, enabling the successful evacuation of thousands of Odias stranded across the world. Continued cooperation of this nature will further help reduce the sufferings of Odia people. This news was welcomed as a bright ray of hope with broad smiles on the faces of our previously distressed Odia brothers. May Mahaprabhu Jagannatha – the Lord of this Universe bless all those who sincerely helped us achieve this.
This kind act of our Honourable Ministers and Government officials is truly commendable and it helps us to serve the community. I am also thankful for the support of the Indian Embassy and our Executive Committee colleague, Mr. Subhas Sahu and the Labour Camp Coordinator, Mr. Sanjay Panda who worked shoulder to shoulder with me to enable this cause.