Ukraine evacuation praiseworthy, but govt could have done better: Opp

MEMBERS FROM across the Opposition and treasury benches on Tuesday lauded the government’s Operation Ganga which was aimed at evacuating Indian citizens from Ukraine amid Russian invasion.

Participating in the discussion on Demands for Grant of the Ministry of Civil Aviation for the financial year 2022-23, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “There is no doubt that the Government of India had embarked upon a massive evacuation effort so as to evacuate our stranded people, including students, from Ukraine. So, the government, along with private airlines and Air Force, deserve to be applauded.”

“In the same vein, I would like to flag the attention of this government to the fact that the chaos and consternation with regard to the evacuation of stranded people could have been averted provided we had taken a little more proactive measures,” Chowdhury said.

Observing that the situation was “precarious”, Chowdhury said, “Given the intensity and the precarious situation prevailing over there, the government could have been more proactive. However, there is no doubt that it was a large-scale humanitarian approach taken together by the departments of Civil Aviation, Defence and External Affairs. It certainly deserves to be applauded.”

Chowdhury also wanted to know whether Operation Ganga is still on or is there still any need to evacuate any person from Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, Initiating the discussion, Congress member Ravneet Singh lauded Operation Ganga to evacuate Indian students from Ukraine. He also raised the issue of lower allocation of Regional Connectivity and said the government should increase the allocation of the scheme.

Raising the issue of high airfare, Singh said: “The tariffs comes under provision of Sub-rule 1 of Rule 135 of Aircraft Rules, 1937. They (airlines) decide the tariffs their own. The government should fix and regulate it.”

BJP member Mahesh Sharma compared NDA government’s seven years’ rule with the rule of previous governments in 67 years before 2014. The country had only 75 airstrips in 67 years, which has increased to 130 in the past seven years, he said. He said there were 395 aircraft in the scheduled airlines in India in 2014, which has increased to 716 aircraft in 2021.

DMK member S R Partiban said, “When Air India flights were with the government, the government was able to successfully rescue our Indian citizens stranded in various countries during the Covid-19 crisis. But during the Ukraine war crisis, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation delayed sending flights to rescue medical students and other civilians straggling in various parts of Ukraine.”

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