Assam asks Civil Aviation Ministry for permission to airlift stranded patients

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Assam government has written to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry for help in bringing back those patients who have completed their treatment outside the state and have been stranded due to the lockdown, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Wednesday.

The state government has deposited Rs 25,000 in the bank account of 850 critical patients who had gone for treatment outside but got stranded when the lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, the minister said at a press conference here.

“Many of them have reached out to us saying that they have completed their treatment and want to return to the state”, he said.

They are patients and cannot undertake the long journey by road and “so we approached the civil aviation ministry to airlift them from places where they had gone for treatment. If we get permission, we will evacuate them”, the minister said.

Besides, travelling by road will entail crossing through Red Zone areas and “we cannot expose people from the state to infection”, Sarma said.

The state government is also working out a plan to bring back people stranded in the other Northeastern states, he said.

Meanwhile, as part of the initiative to allow people stranded in different districts of the state, 48,770 people have travelled within the state by road in their personal vehicles to their homes so far and nearly one lakh have been issued passes by the deputy commissioners of the districts.

Assam State Transportation Corporation (ASTC) buses have so far taken 20,371 passengers to their destination while the remaining 21,285 out of the total 42,651 who had applied will travel to their homes or workplace till May two.

Initially, the movement of the stranded passengers was for a period of three days from April 25 but was later extended till May two.

ASTC is plying 1,274 buses for the passengers who will travel free of cost, Sarma said.

The state government, which introduced the Dhanwantri scheme to reach medicines during the lockdown to people who cannot get it in a radius of ten kilometres of their house, has provided it to 1742 people out of the 5607 people who contacted the call centre.

The government has also provided Rs two thousand each to 2.15 lakh financially weak people who are stranded outside the state and US one thousand dollars to 52 people who had gone abroad for temporary visit and were stranded there, the minister said.

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