Firms working with Govt to evacuate staff in Libya

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 02, 2011

Concern over the safety of 18,000 Indians in Libya is perceptible as unrest in the North African country continues to persist.

Late evening the Foreign Secretary, Ms Nirupama Rao, convened a meeting of chiefs of key Indian companies that have a presence in Libya to chalk out a cohesive contingency plan if evacuation of Indian employees is required.

The domestic companies with a presence in Libya include Oil India Ltd (OIL), OVL, BHEL, Punj Lloyd, Unitech Infra.

Unitech Infra has already evacuated families of 80 of its employees. “We are also working with the Indian Government to safely evacuate our employees at the earliest. The business impact of this development will be very low as Libya operations are a small part of our power transmission business and we believe the situation will normalise soon,” the official spokesperson for the company told Business Line.

Punj Lloyd has large operations in Libya with around 1,800 employees. Its projects in the country are worth $1.8 billion. However, the company's $1-billion project in high-end housing and commercial infrastructure has been on hold for some redesigning and hence does not figure in its order book. It is the company's social infrastructure project of $800 million that had to be stopped for the past week.

Mr Atul Punj, Chairman, said, “I have been speaking to our staff there every two hours. They are fully equipped with food and others things. We have had no threats, no sabotage… no such problem and I believe it will all come to normal very soon. Our projects are in regions where there are few issues. The main problem is in Benghazi where we do not have any project.”

BHEL, which is in the process of commissioning a gas-based power project in Libya, said it would go along with the broad strategy being worked out by the MEA. “We currently have seven employees, all of whom are safe,” the company said.

OIL has only a handful of employees in Libya. A senior official said, “We are co-ordinating with MEA and the Petroleum Ministry and taking all necessary steps to bring them back….These personnel were doing the closing formalities for the two exploration blocks in Libya which OIL (operator) along with Indian Oil Corporation had there”.

In a suo motu statement in Parliament, the External Affairs Minister, Mr S. M. Krishna, said the Government has put in place plans for a possible evacuation by land, air and sea from Libya. “We have also issued travel advisories to our nationals to avoid non-essential travel to Bahrain, Yemen and Libya,” the Minister said.

Published on February 23, 2011

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