BUDAPEST: How A Team Of 30 Working From Budapest Hotel Is Guiding Operation Ganga

BUDAPEST: How A Team Of 30 Working From Budapest Hotel Is Guiding Operation Ganga

BUDAPEST: The Embassy of India has set up a control room in Budapest, Hungary under ‘Operation Ganga’ to coordinate the evacuation of Indians stranded in Ukraine.

Young Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officers are spearheading the evacuation efforts, working as a team to make ‘Operation Ganga’ successful.

In a small hotel room in Budapest, set up as the control room by the Indian Embassy, young Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officers work with a team of technical staff as well as hundreds of volunteers.

Rajiv Bodwade, Deputy Chief of the mission from Israel on special duty here in Budapest, while speaking with ANI said, “When we started, it was just a few students but gradually their number started rising and called for an organised structure in place. We had managed to get more than 150 volunteers but a collated effort was needed.”

Talking to how the events unfolded and the efforts collaborated, Rajiv said, “We set up a command centre. Our teams at the border would tell us how many people had crossed over and how many would be coming to the city based on which we did the calculation in the command centre.”

Teams were divided into four key verticals: transportation, accommodation, food, and flights, he informed while saying that there are more than 150 volunteers helping them.

“The first vertical would oversee transportation because people were using various means, including railways, roads, and some were even walked on foot. So we would arrange for them to travel from borders to the where they were to be put up for temporary accommodations.

 The second vertical would be responsible for finding accommodation for which more than 40 locations were identified,” Rajiv said.

He further added that arranging for food three times a day for the students was also a major challenge.

“Over the last few days, we arranged for food for more than 2,000 people. We have to act very swiftly since there could be a change of multiple locations and that was a prime responsibility for our food team which is our third vertical,” he said.

The task is not over till students board flights, Rajiv said while adding that it was the job of the fourth vertical located at the airport to oversee the same.

“Our team at the airport tells us how many flights are there at the airport and how many people can be sent and at what time,” explained Rajiv.

Just like Rajiv, several other officers have been brought in from neighbouring countries on special duty by the Indian embassy to help in one of India’s biggest evacuation efforts.

A core team of nearly 30 people, including former envoy Kumar Tuhin, who has been brought as an officer on special duty, has been set up to oversee the whole exercise.

As many as six members are part of the core team in the command centre and for coordination with a team of 10-15 who lead volunteer teams.

It would not have been a possibility without a team effort, Rajiv said while appreciating the selfless contribution of the volunteers.

“Selfless volunteers have been working round-the-clock including some of them having taken leave from their jobs working with just three hours of sleep so now we are working like a well-oiled machinery,” said Rajiv.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent four special envoys to various countries from where Indians have been evacuated.

Four cabinet ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiran Rijiju, General (Retd) VK Singh, and Hardeep Singh Puri have been on the job for the last many days. A former diplomat Hardeep Puri has been stationed in Hungary to coordinate their efforts to evacuate Indian students here.

Around 13,300 people returned to India from Ukraine so far by 63 flights under ‘Operation Ganga’, Ministery of External Affairs said on Saturday, adding that 15 flights have landed in the last 24 hours carrying around 2,900 onboard.

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