Can’t Airlift All Indian Patients From Abroad, Says Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi: After reports that the family of an elderly woman in Bangkok, who were waiting to evacuate her through the air ambulance that crashed on Monday before reaching there, is unhappy with Indian authorities for not rendering financial assistance as per a request made earlier in February, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the government did not have enough funds to airlift patients to India from various parts of the world.

Such an exercise in each case would cost the state exchequer lakhs. To prove her point, the minister retweeted various requests for this from Indians from across the world.
“I wish I had enough funds to airlift all Indian patients from various countries of the world,” Ms Swaraj tweeted in response to Rakesh Kumar Aggarwal, who according to reports is the husband of the patient 60 year-old Shashi Aggarwal.

In a tweet two days ago to Ms Swaraj, Rakesh Kumar Aggarwal said, “Madam if you would have taken any early decision (on financial assistance), one life would have been saved and so many family members … (would not have been) crying.”

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Ms Swaraj also retweeted a few such requests made to her by other Indians, with one request made on January 30 to evacuate an Indian — through air ambulance to India — who was lying critical in a Saudi hospital. Another request from a woman on February 16 wanted the Indian government’s assistance in evacuating her brother through an air ambulance from Georgia.

Yet another request made was a to evacuate an Indian from the US through air ambulance back to India, wherein the cost would have been $2 lakh (Rs 1.40 crore).
Among these requests was from the Aggarwal family who wanted one of their family-members to be evacuated from Bangkok and had apparently tweeted Ms Swaraj in February for financial help. According to reports, the family finally entered into an agreement with the Gurgaon-based Medanta Hospital which despatched an air ambulance to Bangkok to air-lift the patient. Unfortunately, the air-ambulance crashed near Bangkok on Monday, before it could arrive, killing the pilot and injuring two doctors on board.

Late on Monday night, Ms. Swaraj had tweeted, “The Air Ambulance of Medanta Hospital with five member crew caught fire and crashlanded near Bangkok. The injured were shifted to Bangkok Hospital by Army helicopters. Our Mission has just informed me that we have lost pilot of the Air Ambulance Arunaksha Nandy. Dr.Shailendra and Dr.Komal are in the ICU. The other two have sustained minor injuries. Our Mission is extending them all help and assistance. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.”