Mumbai/Bhubaneswar: Actor Sonu Sood on Friday came to the rescue of 167 migrants stuck in Kerala by arranging a special chartered flight to help them reach their home in Odisha.

The group, comprising 147 women and 20 men, was airlifted by an Air Asia chartered flight from Kochi to the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar.

"When I decided to come forward in support of these migrant workers who have been stranded, all that I had in my mind was how I can help reunite them with their families and homes," Sonu said in a statement.

The Bollywood star thanked the national carrier for its "immediate response and interest in supporting this endeavor".

"AirAsia India has been very appreciative that this Umeed Ki Udan may be the first flight for many of them. The Allstars of AirAsia who have been part of this journey have been true COVID warriors and have done everything possible to make the guests onboard comfortable," Sonu added.

Anup Manjeshwar, Head, Sales & Distribution, AirAsia India, hailed the actor for starting the noble cause of helping the migrants.

"Mr. Sood's compassion and empathy with the plight of migrant workers has been inspiring and it has been a pleasure working with him to facilitate this fantastic initiative and give wings to the dreams of 147 women and 20 men who work with a clothing and stitching firm on today's flight," he added.

Rajya Sabha MP Amar Patnaik took to Twitter to thank Sood for his "noble efforts".

"@SonuSood Ji, your helping the Odia girls to return safely from Kerala is commendable. Kudos to your noble efforts. It's incredible to see how you are helping the needy reach their homes safely. More strength to you," Patnaik wrote on Twitter.

Amid the nationwide lockdown, the Odia women, most of whom were engaged in stitching and embroidery work in the textile sector in Kerala, had been trying to return for the last several weeks and finally, their plight was posted by someone on Twitter which led to Sood's help.

Initially, it was proposed to bring back the young women by bus or train but Sood offered to send them in a special plane, said an airline official.

The special flight carrying them from Kochi airport landed at Bhubaneswar airport on Friday, said an official.

"We are extremely thankful to Sonu Sood for making arrangements for our return to Odisha. We will be able to meet our family members after so many months," said one of the migrants.

As all the returnees hailed from Kendrapara, the state government had made adequate arrangements for their journey to the coastal district.

Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma told PTI that the district administration had sent four buses to pick up the women from the Bhubaneswar airport. The returnees were offered food, water, and other necessities and traveled to Kendrapara by maintaining social distancing.

All of them have been placed in institutional quarantine. They will be under mandatory quarantine for seven days at the government-run facilities at the district headquarters town, he said.

Thereafter, they will have to be under home quarantine for another seven days, Verma added.

Sonu and his friend Neeti Goel have won hearts with their 'Ghar Bhejo' initiative.

The actor facilitated several buses for workers stuck in Mumbai due to the coronavirus-forced nationwide lockdown. The actor has transported workers to far off states such as Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, and UP.

Recently, he launched a toll-free helpline to help migrants reaching their homes.

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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday decided to procure cow dung at Rs 2 per kilogram from cattle rearers as part of its 'Gaudhan Nyay Yojana' which will be launched on July 20, coinciding with local Hareli festival, an official said.

The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel here on Tuesday, a government spokesperson said.

The scheme is meant for large scale production of vermicompost in gauthans (dedicated land in villages where cattle are housed) set up under the ambitious 'Narva, Garua, Ghurua aur Bari' scheme of the state government, he said.

"Earlier, a cabinet sub-committee had recommended buying cow dung at Rs 1.50 per kg but the cabinet has fixed the procurement rate at Rs 2 per kg, including transport cost," he said.

The state government has sanctioned construction of nearly 5300 gauthans so far, out of which 2,408 in rural areas and 377 in urban areas have been set up, he said.

In these gauthans, cow and buffalo dung will be procured from cattle owners through gauthan committees and will be utilized for making vermicompost and other products, he added.

The scheme will be launched on Hareli festival, which is celebrated to mark the start of agricultural activities.

The cabinet also approved selling of vermicompost produced under the scheme through cooperative societies to farmers at the rate of Rs 8 per kg, he said.

The cabinet also approved a plan to distribute 5 kg rice per person each month from July to November on ration cards (except for APL category) issued under the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, in the same way as it is being provided on ration cards under National Food Security Act, he said.

"Likewise, one kg of a gram will be given per month during the same period to ration card holders (except for APL category)under Chhattisgarh Food Security Act," he said.

Besides, the cabinet approved to merge the remaining batch of teachers working under panchayat and urban body departments, who have completed a service period of two years or more, with the school education department from November 1.

The move will benefit 16,278 teachers, he added.

The cabinet also decided to constitute the Indravati Basin Development Authority for development of Indravati river valley in south Chhattisgarh, he said.

The decision to discontinue the Chhattisgarh State Law Commission was also taken in the meeting, he said.