New Delhi (IANS) INA Jalashwa entered Male port in Maldives on Thursday morning for evacuating Indian nationals as part of Samudra Setu programme.
The Indian Naval ship will leave for Kochi on Friday carrying nearly 1,000 stranded Indian nationals in Maldives due to lockdown imposed to contain the deadly coronavirus.
In view of the prevailing lockdown, Indian Navy has been tasked to evacuate stranded Indian nationals from Maldives as part of phase one commencing May 8. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar headed to the Maldives capital on May 5.
A total 14 ships have been kept ready to bring stranded citizens from Gulf countries and out of it two sailed on May 5 early morning.
These ships have made arrangements as per the standard protocol laid out to deal with suspected Covid people, like social distancing and sanitization. Indian Navy has removed non-essential equipment in order to accommodate the evacuees.
Further, INS Shardul attached to Southern Naval Command has also been engaged and it is to bring stranded citizens for Dubai.
There are 14 ships on standby and waiting for the Central government directions. "They would start sailing once the government issues directions," said as senior Indian Navy official.
The Indian Navy has carried out similar evacuation operations from overseas on earlier occasions, as part of Operation Sukoon in 2006 and Operation Rahat in 2015.
Navy had carried out evacuation efforts in war-torn areas like Lebanon (2006) and Yemen (2015). Before that, evacuation was carried in 1990 during the first Gulf war between Iraq and Kuwait where around 1.5 lakh people were evacuated.