On the last day of Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Indian diaspora was assured that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs will push for direct flights between the UK and Gujarat. A number of representative groups for the Gujarati population in Britain expressed their joy at the assurance.
Mr T K Manoj Kumar, Joint Secretary, diaspora services division (MOIA) addressing the audience said, "We had prepared a strong proposal for Air India to start direct flights between London and Ahmedabad but due to financial and logistics reasons it couldn't go forward...
"I will reiterate this point strongly when I go back this time and push for it again."
CB Patel, Publisher/Editor of the Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar and Chairman of the India League, who had initially started the campaign told a journalist from the Press Trust of India, "We had launched a major campaign in 1999 following which direct flights were launched in 2003. From just one flight a week, in view of the major passenger flow that was increased to five flights but the UPA government just suddenly stopped them.”
CB had submitted more than 20,000-strong petition on the issue a few years ago and has now taken up the matter directly with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He added, "The request is with Prime Minister Modi and the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt Anandiben Patel, we are very optimistic after Manoj Kumar's assurance. Given the financial crisis faced by Air India, maybe this is just the right kind of business opportunity. The demand is very high.”
HE Ranjan Mathai, the Indian High Commissioner said, "We have had a series of useful meetings and come up with some practical steps to take the India-UK relationship forward.”
Shailesh Vara, UK Minister for Courts and Legal aid said, "The UK's 1.5 million diaspora is ready, willing and able to play a part in India's growth story so that Britain and Bharat can prosper together.”