Colombo [Sri Lanka], June 1 (ANI): Indian High Commission to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, on Monday appreciated the special efforts undertaken by the Indian government, Indian Navy and other ministries involved in the repatriation process of the stranded nationals, who are all set to board the INS Jalashwa in the evening from Colombo to return home.
"It is a very big service to the nation and we wholeheartedly thank Indian Navy for that. We also thank the various departments of ministries and the Indian government who have worked tirelessly to make this possible. Special thanks to the government of Tamil Nadu and the Sri Lankan government as well," Baglay said.
"It is a place where there are no usual facilities for immigration or customs but they have set up here everything including online clearance for immigration system custom clearance checking. Even health officials are here. The Sri Lankan government is like a true friend and a true neighbour. They have cooperated wholeheartedly in this endeavour," he added.
"Because of the cooperation of everyone, today the hope of Indians to return to their country is being realised. I would like to say a big thank you to my colleagues as well for working tirelessly and planning this operation meticulously. This is a very happy day for all of us," the High Commissioner further said.
People who arrived in Sri Lanka in March as tourists, or to attend a wedding or as fishermen and got stranded in Sri Lanka due to COVID-induced travel restrictions are set to sail this evening and will disembark on June 2 at the Tuticorin harbour in Tamil Nadu.
About 700 Indians will be taken back to their homes under the Operation Samudra Setu -- involving Indian Naval Ships, Jalashwa and Magar, -- a part of national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas amid COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
INS Jalashwa had been to Sri Lanka three years ago on May 30, 2017, carrying flood relief materials to help its neighbour in a catastrophic situation caused by Cyclone Mora.
The evacuees include men, women, children as well as Tamil Nadu fishermen, Baglay noted.
The ship has been demarcated into zones to facilitate the evacuees without compromising on social distancing and health protocols issued by the government.
In the final section, allotted teams will escort the evacuees to their designated mess.
Navy officials have formed teams specifically to ensure social distancing among the evacuees.
The Operation Samudra Setu under Vande Bharat Mission has so far facilitated over 1,000 evacuees from Male during the earlier phases of the operation --- on May 8 and May 16. (ANI)