Govt May Have To Dish Out Rs 75 Cr To Evacuate Gulf Expats

New Delhi, February 16: | Updated: Feb 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
The government may have to dish out anywhere between Rs 50 crore to Rs 75 crore for evacuation of around 50,000 Indians from Iraq and neighbouring Gulf countries in case of war.

According to preliminary civil aviation ministry estimates, based on inputs provided by the external affairs ministry, a large number of Indians may not be able to pay the air fare to return to India. The government may end up bearing the cost of their evacuation on social grounds.

Air-India and Indian Airlines have already drawn up a contingency plan which has been submitted to the civil aviation ministry. The evacuation could take 10-12 days, sources in the ministry said.

We are only concentrating on the basic principle of rescuing Indians in distress. A final structure of the costs is yet to be arrived at as it is dependent on a host of variables, such as the price of fuel, number of passengers to be evacuated, charges such as war-risk insurance and landing, and parking costs, a senior ministry official told FE.

The costs that have been worked out by the airlines are at current prices of fuel and includes other charges.

A one-way operation is always expensive, he added. The flights to be operated will be between Mumbai-Dammam (Saudi Arabia)-Mumbai, Dammam-Trivandrum and Dammam-Cochin. The Dammam-Calicut flight had been struck off because the airport does not have adequate night landing facility, sources said.

According to the contingency plan, Air-India will offer 2,000 seats on a daily basis, while 1,500 seats will be offered by Indian Airlines daily.