In a first, the alumni network of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore has leased an Air Asia aircraft to airlift 180 migrant workers stranded in Maharashtra's Mumbai.
This is the first time that a group of private individuals has raised funds to lease a chartered plane and rescue distressed migrants and workers. The flight destined to Jharkhand's Ranchi is scheduled to take off tomorrow, i.e., Wednesday, from Mumbai at 6 AM.
Speaking to LiveLaw, one of the Core Team members told that they had considered the option of transporting these migrants though buses however, the same did not come across as a feasible idea given the colossal amount of paperwork involved therein.
"We examined the buses and the fares they are charging…we realized various issues with the buses in terms of road accidents, cross-border permits…we have no control over whether the bus actually reaches [its destination]...," an alumna said.
She informed that one of the NLSIU alumni working with the Tata Group put the Team in touch with the Air Asia, which agreed to lease an aircraft to them. Funds for this program were raised overnight by crowd funding and donations made by former students of the University, and a list of stranded migrant workers was prepared with the help of various activists and NGOs.
Initially, they planned to arrange a commercial passenger flight to transport 40 workers. However, given the restrictions imposed on the number of flights that may be operated, the alumni network progressed to arrange a dedicated chartered flight.
As of now, the project focuses on transporting those migrants who have valid Government IDs that are acceptable to gain entry to an airport. This is to any avoid further delay in obtaining an extra set of approval to transit people who do not have valid IDs.
"It's a whole separate set of approval to get people through if they don't have a valid ID…right now we have made the list [of migrants] based on people who have IDs and a lot of workers do have IDs, so that worked out well…," an alumna said.
The alumni expressed optimism and said that if the pilot project concludes successfully, then they will plan to implement it on a larger scale, "to evacuate people faster and in a more safe manner".