A non-resident Gujarati (NRG), Bharat Joshi, and his friends have facilitated the return of 1,375
Gujaratis stranded because of the
lockdown back to their native land from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Joshi and his friends, who have been toiling hard to co-ordinate with the embassy and book chartered flights for Gujaratis wanting to return, arranged seven chartered flights between June 18 and July 13. The last of the chartered flights arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday evening.
Joshi, 44, says there are at least 2,000 more Indians in various parts of the UAE who are still waiting to return to India. He says that with the lockdown in force, many of them have not been paid salaries and do not even have enough money for the air fare back.
“My friends and I have worked several hours a day, trying to arrange flights for those who are desperate to return, ensuring their Covid tests are done and putting them on to flights back home. Although there are still many Indians who want to come back, we sent the last of the seven chartered flights to Ahmedabad on Monday,” said Joshi.
Joshi said that the government of India needs to increase Vande Bharat flights from Gulf countries to various destinations in India. “The price of one ticket on a chartered flights is between 900 and 1,100 dirhams, while the cost of a Vande Bharat flight ticket to Gujarat from UAE is about 600 dirhams,” he said.
Joshi is from Chobari village of Bhachau taluka in Kutch district.
He went to Dubai in 2004 and began working there for a salary of 1,150 dirhams a month. He soon started his own business and set up showrooms in Dubai and Muscat. He and his friends — Kunjan Pansuriya, Dharamdev Thakore and Pratap Kuchhadiya — all of whom run businesses in the UAE, have been helpingstranded Gujaratis to return home.