Since Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights after Russia launched the invasion, about 16,000 Indian diasporas, mostly students, remained in the war-torn country.
When students called for evacuations from bomb shelters, New Delhi launched a multi-faceted evacuation plan called “Operation Ganges” to bring home its citizens.
Accordingly, the Indian missions in Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary organize the reception of Indian citizens from Ukraine and their removal from the respective countries as part of Operation Ganges. The cost will be borne by the center.
The cost of the bilateral evacuation flight is reported to be more than 1.10 billion rupees. The amount is likely to increase depending on the duration of the flights.
To assist in the evacuation of Indian citizens through the border checkpoints of Ukraine with four countries established round-the-clock control centers.
The government has announced that four union ministers will travel to Ukraine’s neighboring countries to coordinate the evacuation.
Oil Minister Hardip Puri will travel to Hungary, Aviation Minister Giotrodi Shinda will travel to Romania and Moldova; Minister of Law Kieran Ridgi to Slovakia and Minister of State Aviation VK Singh to Poland.
The government has also set up a special Twitter account called the OpGanga hotline to help with evacuations by sharing important tips and instructions.
The Union Ministry of Health has revised the mandatory international travel guidelines for all Indians evacuated from Ukraine, allowing them to board flights without a negative RT-PCR report or vaccination certificate.
The rules of the trip have been revised for humanitarian reasons.
As of Monday, Tata Group had evacuated 1,396 Indian citizens on six evacuation flights chartered by the government. The airline used Boeing 787 Dreamliners for services.
The first flight under Operation Ganges brought home 219 Indians from the Romanian capital Bucharest to Mumbai on Saturday night. Other flights brought up to 250 Indians each from Bucharest as well as Hungarian Budapest back to India.
Operation Ganga gained momentum after SpiceJet, Air India Express and IndiGo joined the mission, which has been conducting special flights to Bucharest and Budapest since Monday. Evacuation flights are used by Indians who managed to escape from Ukraine and enter the border countries.
IndiGo operated its Airbus A321, and SpiceJet deployed Boeing 737 MAX 8s.