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216Sikkim &GTA residents return home from UAE

Saturday, Jul 04, 2020 14:45 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Jul 04, 2020 09:14 [IST]

216Sikkim >A residents return home from UAE

SE Bureau
DARJEELING/SILIGURI: A collective effort from the hills diaspora living in UAE made it possible for evacuation of around 216 people from Sikkim, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and other parts of Bengal stranded in the Middle East nation due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Thereturnees boarded a direct flight from Sharjah which landed at Bagdogra airport at 1 pm on Friday. Among them, 168 were from the GTA area, 17 from Sikkim and remaining from other parts of West Bengal.
Those from the GTA area who arrived in the chartered flight at Bagdogra airport were provided with all required support by the GTA authorities in accordance with proper government protocols. The SNT officials were also at the airport to assist the Sikkim returnees. Buses were provided to their returnees by the GTA and Sikkim government to take them to respective destinations.
Many individuals settled or working in UAEfrom the hills were part of the initiative to send the stranded people back home. Among them, Steven Gurung posted a video on Facebook regarding the initiative taken.
“There were a lot of people involved in making this direct flight a reality from Sarjah to Bagdogra which can be said to be the first time in history. It all started when I saw a Facebook post by a person from our hills regarding the problem he was facing in UAE. The person had written that he has no food as he has not got salary for 4-5 months,” said Gurung.
“We started out by making a group with the idea of providing rations to such people which we did. In two days’ time we came to know about 80 to 90 such people with them facing the same type of problems. Most of them also wanted to go home,” said Gurung. He is from Darjeeling and is based in UAE.
Gurung shared that a core committee was formed to assist the stranded people of Sikkim-Darjeeling hills and help them to return home. The committee worked on fulfilling the documentation process and communicating with the authorities concerned. Many helped in raising funds which also enabled them to pay for the flight tickets of nine persons who could not afford to do so.
As the returnees landed at Bagdogra, the GTA authorities extended help to those returning to GTA area.
“The majority of the people that came back are from the GTA area. We have arranged for the necessary things required for them including transport. According to government protocols, those coming from foreign countries have to stay in paid quarantine. We have arranged two hotels for them for it. There might be some who cannot afford it and we will discuss with them regarding the matter and provide further support for them," said GTAchairman AnitThapa who was seen in Bagdogra welcoming the returnees.
Thapa informed that the returnees would be kept in institutional quarantine for seven days and the next seven days in home quarantine. He informed that their samples would be taken for testing.
SNT deputy general manager BhupendraChhetri said all the 17 returnees of Sikkim would be quarantined in the one place after their entry to their home State.
Sameer Chhetri, a Sikkim resident who returned from UAE, thanked the group who facilitated their return. “Without the support of the core team including Steven Gurung, it would have been difficult for us to reach our homes.”
This historic chartered flight that landed in Bagdogra airport is a first for any commercial flight from Middle East.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi