Chennai: The Centre has informed the Madras high court that 17,701 people from Tamil Nadu stranded in various countries due to travel curbs following the COVID-19 pandemic were brought back through 50 flights.

The external affairs ministry made the submission in a counter-affidavit on a petition by the DMK seeking details on bringing Tamils stuck abroad because of COVID-19 and suspension of flights.

The ministry said 45,242 repatriation requests were received from people of Tamil Nadu stranded in different countries.

When the petition came up for hearing on Wednesday (June 24) before a Division Bench of Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy, the court adjourned the hearing to June 29 as copies of the counter filed by the ministry were not available.

The ministry in the counter-affidavit said a total of 4,87,303 repatriation requests were received from Indians citizens stranded in various countries of which 2,63,187 were brought back. A total number of 1,248 flights were scheduled to be utilised for the mission.

It said, "Since the commencement of 'Vande Bharat' Mission and 'Operation Samudra Sethu', the missions have been engaged in facilitating the return of stranded Indians from abroad as per the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) issued by the ministry of home affairs.”

The court had directed the Centre to file a status report on the number of people who have registered with various Indian embassies abroad in order to return home. The DMK, in its plea, had also sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to permit landing of aircraft bringing stranded Indians back.

Also, the court had sought details on the number of flights that would be operated for such people, either under the 'Vande Bharat' Mission or otherwise.

(With inputs from PTI)