The seventh phase of Vande Bharat mission was operationalised on Thursday and 820 international flights have been scheduled from 19 countries under this phase during the course of this month. Addressing the weekly media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said 16.45 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes of the Vande Bharat Mission till September 30. “Under this phase, 894 international flights and 142 feeder flights have been operated from 24 countries reaching 24 airports across India and repatriating an estimated 1.75 lakh persons,” he said.

“To meet the continued demand, Phase 7 of VBM has been operationalised from today. As of now, 820 international flights have been scheduled from 19 countries to be operated under Phase 7 during the course of this month. These include main flights from among the 14 countries with which India has a bilateral ‘air bubble’ arrangement in place. These flights will reach 24 airports across India, repatriating an estimated 1.5 lakh people,” he added.

He said the MEA has undertaken a further assessment of demand for repatriation from other countries and projected the requirements to Air India. “Flights will be scheduled from these additional stations in the coming days,” he said. All scheduled commercial passenger flights were suspended in India on March 25 after the Central government imposed a lockdown to contain further spread of COVID-19. Domestic flights in the country resumed operations from May 25 in a gradual manner.

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Earlier, India on Wednesday successfully test-fired the extended range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile which can hit targets at over 400-kilometre range. The test-firing was carried out under the PJ-10 project of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), under which the missile was launched with an indigenous booster. The missile was launched from a land-based facility in Odisha.

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