Speaking exclusively to OTV on Saturday, India's Ambassador to Ukraine, Partha Satpathy during his visit to Odisha, said that the evacuation operation of stranded Indians from war zones in Ukraine was a challenging experience for him.
"The air fare for all the flights operated under Operation Ganga has been borne entirely by the government and nothing has been charged from the students," he added.
India evacuated around 600 Indian nationals from conflict-ridden Sumy city on Tuesday after Russia and Ukraine provided a humanitarian corridor for their exit following New Delhi's intense diplomatic engagement with the two sides.
The Centre had initiated an airlift operation to evacuate Indians, who have found their way to neighbouring countries of war-torn Ukraine
"The number of Indians airlifted by 66 special civilian flights goes up to 13,852. Till date, the IAF has flown 10 sorties to bring back 2,056 passengers while taking 26 tonnes of relief load to these countries as part of Operation Ganga," Union Ministry of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a statement on Sunday.
Amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine, the Indian government, under the 'Operation Ganga', has flown 13,700 citizens - who were stuck in war-hit Ukraine - back to safety by special flights that were started last week, the government had said in a statement on Saturday.
The arriving passengers included a maximum 120 people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu (58), Andhra Pradesh (28), Uttar Pradesh (18), Rajasthan (17), Bihar (16), Maharashtra (15), Telangana (14), Haryana (13) and Delhi (10).
Three C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft of the IAF, which had taken off on Friday from the Hindan air base, landed back at Hindan on Saturday morning. These flights evacuated 629 Indian nationals from Romania, Slovakia and Poland. Saturday's civilian flights included five from Budapest, four from Suceva, one from Kosice and two from Rzeszow.
The Prime Minister was also briefed on the status of Indians, mostly stuck in Odessa and Sumi areas close to the Russian border and discussed the possible ways for their safe evacuation.
Ukraine-Russia War: Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Addresses Students During Evacuation
Rijiju reached Slovakia on a SpiceJet flight sent to pull out Indians who have reached the country by road from Ukraine.
Another flight carrying the Indian nationals is also expected to land soon at the airport. Meanwhile, two Indian Air Force aircraft took off for Romania and Hungary from the Hindon airbase this morning to bring back stranded Indians.
Ukriane Russia Conflict: Gen VK Singh On Operation Ganga
After Russia launched special military operations in Ukraine last week, the latter immediately closed its airspace as a security measure, as a result of which lakhs of people including Indians got stuck in war zones or were forced to flee the country. In view of the deteriorating situation, the Indian Government launched ‘Operation Ganga’ to bring back all Indian nationals stranded in the war-torn country. Also, the Union government decided to deploy four Cabinet Ministers as special envoys to facilitate repatriation of around 19,000 Indians stranded in Ukraine. As part of 'Operation Ganga' initiative, the GoI has so far brought back over 1000 Indian nationals from Ukraine safely.
Amid the ongoing war between Russia-Ukraine, the Air India (AI)-192 special flight service successfully airlifted 250 Indian students from Bucharest, Romania, under 'Operation Ganga' in New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport at 3 am on Sunday.