With the Ukrainian invasion by Russian troops on 24 February Ukraine closed its airspace for civilian flights that left over 20,000 Indians stranded in the country in which about 18,000 were students. Government of India on Tuesday launched a special rescue operation to provide humanitarian assistance to Indians stranded in Ukraine but have crossed Ukrainian borders into the neighbouring countries. Romania, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia all of these countries are giving assistance to Indian government for the success of ‘Operation Ganga’.
The whole operation is planned by Union Ministry of External Affairs with the help of Indian Armed Forces. Airlines those have joined this operation includes Air India, SpiceJet, Air India Express, Indigo. Indigo contributing to 51% of total flight to repatriate the stranded Indians.
The two-way evacuation flight is reportedly costing around RS 1.10 crore, the amount could go up depending on the country from which the students are evacuated. The journey is totally free for the stranded Indians and is being borne by the centre.
In the meantime for assistance of evacuation of Indian nationals government of India has set up control centres running 24×7. A dedicated Twitter account named OpGanga Helpline has been created by the government of India to assist in the evacuation by sharing important advisories and instructions.
Four Union Ministers have travelled to different neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation. Law minister Kiran Rijiju has gone to Slovakia, Petroleum minister Hardeep Puri to Hungary, aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to Romania and Moldova; and Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh to Poland.
As on 6 March 2022, Sunday Indian Embassy in Hungary has announced that the last leg of the ‘Operation Ganga’ has started and urged all the stranded students who are staying in their own accommodation to reach Hungarian city centre located in Budapest between 10am-12pm.
On Twitter, Indian embassy in Kyiv has requested to all the Indians still stranded in Ukraine to fill up all the details attached in a Google form immediately.
MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that in the last 24 hours a total of 15 flights have landed carrying around 2900 onboard. Around 13,300 Indian national have returned to India so far by 63 flights under ‘Operation Ganga’ and in the next 24 hours 13 more flights are scheduled few of them have already landed in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries . He also mentioned a total of 298 Indians have been evacuated from Pisochyn and that probably one Nepali citizen will be coming today (onboard the Indian flight), and Bangladeshi national is also expected later.