Over 160 migrant workers were ferried back to their home to Jharkhand from Mumbai on Thursday on a chartered aircraft. The initiative was a joint effort by the alumni network of Bengaluru- based National Law School, the Tata Group and the Jharkhand government, the first instance of a charity flight being used to facilitate the return of distressed people during the lockdown.
With the help of the NLS alumni, this plan worked out. They almost raised Rs.12 lakh, after which they connected with the Tata Group, who provided the flight as it owns a majority stake in Air Asia. The Air Asia flight carried 169 migrant workers and five children, who left the Western metropolis at 6.25 AM and reached Ranchi, Jharkhand Capital at around 8.25 AM, an airline spokesperson said. The spokesperson also said that the National Law School alumni association had taken on lease a 180- seater A320 plane, a first such charter operation by the budget carrier since passenger services resumed in the country.
“Air Asia India is proud to be a part of this initiative that helped the migrant workers to reach back to their homes and families, who were adversely affected due to the lockdown. We have been closely working with the organizers, alumni of NLS, whom we understand have independently crowdfunded their efforts to assist and sent back the migrant workers from Mumbai to Ranchi,” the officials said.
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At Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Airport, the migrant workers underwent a medical screening and the administration offered them food packets, before sending them off to quarantine centers in different districts of Jharkhand in buses. Expressing gratitude to the alumni association of the law school in Bengaluru, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said, “This is the first time in the country that a plane brought Mazdoor back during the lockdown. I appreciate the effort of the Alumni Network of National Law School, Bengaluru.”
Shyel Trehan, one of those behind the initiative, said in a statement that, “We are happy to have made this very small contribution to addressing a massive travesty. I would like to thank AirAsia for the support.” One of the workers, after completing the formalities at the airport, said he would like to thank the Law school alumni association and the state for ensuring their safe return.
Soren on his part said, “The state is committed to bringing back all the migrant workers stranded in different corners of the country and in this endeavour the state government has established communications with Central.” At the end of the day, if a government cares about the poor, it will manage to help them regardless of the situation.