Sunday, July 26, 2020

Ex-pilot brings home 22 Odisha workers stranded in Sri Lanka

Chennai: He has rescued Indians from war zones, reached out to people who lost their homes during floods with relief material as a pilot on a government mission. This time he is bringing back workers from Sri Lanka, using all his resources to help stranded people.
“All it took was one call. We wasted no time and sent the flight to bring them back home,” said Vivek Shanbhag, managing director of Aries Enterprises, a charter flight company that ferries Indian seafarers between India and international seaports.
Over the past two days, Vivek has helped evacuate 22 workers from Odisha stuck in Sri Lanka due to the pandemic for more than four months. With no work or money, the workers were desperately trying to get back home, but since international flights were restricted and unaffordable they were stuck in the foreign country.
“They had no money and were struggling to arrange for food,” said Shanbhag. A few days ago, the men got in touch with the Indian High Commission in Colombo and the authorities there reached out to Shanbhag, who arranged for the transport from his own pocket. One group reached the city on Friday and the other on Saturday.
The groups were kept under quarantine inside the campus of a private college for a day and later Shanbhag’s firm arranged for buses to take them back to their native in Odisha. Before leaving, the workers were given water bottles, dry ration, and other essential supplies. “This was possible because of the help from both governments,” said Shanbhag, a recently retired Air India pilot with 31 years of service.
26/07/20 Aditi R/Times of India
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