New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has informed the Supreme Court that there are 13 million Indians – including NRIs and students – abroad and the government is seeking to minimize the severe risk posed by arrivals from an increasing number of countries affected by Covid-19.
The government has urged the Indian nationals to stay put where they are to contain the further spread of the virus within India and allow the health machinery to focus on domestic containment effectively. In the UK, there are about 400,000 Indian nationals, including about 50,000 students. The UK government has now extended visas till May 31 and has issued necessary guidelines.
“However, given the present situation of the coronavirus outbreak in India and the available limited resources, it is not feasible to selectively evacuate Indian citizens from abroad when a large number of them from a number of countries want to return back due to various reasons,” said the MEA in its reply to the Supreme Court.
The response from the government came on a plea filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to evacuate a group of nearly 380 Indian students stranded in the UK without delay, and until their evacuation, provide them with accommodation, health and medical support.
The MEA said some countries have reported a very large number of cases including deaths, putting passengers from these countries particularly at higher risk of infection.
The return of such passengers to different regions of India poses a grave risk to the country of a population of over 1.3 billion, it contended.