Due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, 175 Odia people were stranded in Bahrain. Most of the people lost their jobs and had nowhere to go with expired visas. They had to take shelter in labour camps for 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. These people had thus registered for evacuation to Bhubaneswar.
Considering the situation, Union Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan intervened in this matter. The minister had an interactive video conferencing session with the Gulf Region’s (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Dubai) Odia representatives on 3rd May 2020 and recommended these Odia migrants to get in touch with the Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation, informs Bahrain Odia Samaj President Dr. Arun Kumar Praharaj.
Similarly, Minister for Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Co-operation, Ranendra Pratap Swain recommended the Nodal Officer of Odisha, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Mr. Rahul Shrivastava to help the stranded Odias. The minister arranged a video conferencing session on 30th May 2020 as per the directives of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik assured to provide every possible support from the Government of Odisha to help the stranded Odias across the world.
The Chief Minister upon the request of migrant Odias, 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 appreciated the efforts of Rahul Shrivastava, 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 Air India flight AI 0940 will take off from Bahrain International Airport at IST 3.35 PM and shall land at Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar at Indian Standard Time 10.20 PM Via Delhi.
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 smileson the faces of our previously distressed Odia brothers. May Mahaprabhu Jagannath, the Lord of this Universe bless all those who sincerely helped us achieve this.
“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 tirelessly for this cause. It was a great long drawn communication with the various ministries but I am delighted with the positive outcome, he says.
Bahrain Odia Samaj President Dr. Arun Kumar Praharaj has conveyed his deepest gratitude to the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Co-operation Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs Rahul Shrivastava and the Air India Commercial Director Ms. Meenakshi Mallik for their sincere efforts to arrange a direct flight under the “Vande Bharat Mission” for the stranded Odias in Bahrain.