The Ministry of External Affairs (MHA) was found engaged in an unusual public spat with the Trinamool Congress three days ago over the arrival of flights under mission Vande Bharat bringing back stranded Indians from abroad.
The TMC’s Partha Chatterjee accused the MEA of not including West Bengal as a destination for any of the repatriation flights.
Soon after, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava wrote on Twitter that the West Bengal government had not shared quarantine facility and other details to support repatriation of Indians in the state.
However, within days, a flight to Kolkata is being facilitated and is scheduled to reach the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose airport on Monday (May 18) from Dhaka.
Sources said the flight will bring back 169 Indians, including 73 students, 16 elderly people, 45 stranded tourists, 16 cases of medical emergency and one pregnant woman. Indians in need for repatriation are being brought from 18 different districts of Bangladesh, said sources.
After a compulsory quarantine of 14 days, the repatriated Indians will go back home in the state’s 20 different districts, including Paschim Bardhman, North 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur and Jalpaiguri.
On May 15, the state home department tweeted a letter dated May 11t wherein it had communicated to the MEA details of landing and quarantine facilities as well as the name of the nodal officer for coordinating the same.
It included a list of 12 paid quarantine facilities with a total of 738 rooms and three government quarantine centres free of cost with 700 beds.
The MEA spokesperson retweeted this and welcomed "the willingness of GoWB to accept returnees from abroad who are from West Bengal”. Earlier, the Union ministry had said that it will “help in the return of WB residents through land borders with neighbours.”
The repatriation of Indian nationals through land border will be from Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Besides Dhaka, flights from Bangkok, Yangon, Kathmandu, Singapore, London, Dubai and New York could soon land in Bengal.
The state government was also engaged in a confrontation with the Union Home Ministry over the return of migrant labourers to the state when Home Minister Amit Shah wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accusing her government of not facilitating the process.
However, the Trinamool Congress responded by saying that they had already sought special trains from the Railways and Derek O’Brien claimed that 80,000 labour had already returned to the state.
Within a day of the spat, the Railway Ministry had also announced that West Bengal government had requisitioned eight trains for ferrying migrant workers.