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Engineers leave India amid growing fears of Kashmir war

BRITISH CIVIL engineers were this week fleeing India because of the continuing threat of war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

Consultants acted on new advice issued last week by the Indian High Commission advising all British nationals to leave the country.

Even as tensions eased slightly, the advice changed from an instruction to 'consider leaving' the country to a firmer 'we advise all British nationals currently in India to leave'.

In response, Mott MacDonald and Babtie started flying British staff home.

Mott MacDonald director Peter Lee said that all but one of its 10 expat engineers in India were leaving. One engineer would remain, working on Bangalore Airport in the south of the country.

The consultant had a British team working on designs for the new Delhi metro, and will keep two UK engineers in Singapore, working on the project remotely.

Director of 60 strong Babtie India Suren Vakil said that five UK engineers working in Ahmedabad and Hydrabad had left the country.

Two British staff due to fly to India have had their journeys cancelled, he added.

Pell Frischmann principal engineer Bob Cook cancelled his flight to the Bombay office, where he is supervising design of an 80km highway in Jamaica.

'Without any expats the project will be a lot more difficult but it can be done, ' he said.

He added that Indian engineers due to come to the UK to gain work experience were not being issued visas by the UK government.

Other European Union countries were reported to have advised their nationals to move to the south of the country away from the danger zone.

In line with this, Scott Wilson said that its 20 plus expat staff in India had been transferred to offices in Bangalore, Hydrabad and Madras in the south of the country. All UK staff have the chance to leave India if they want to.

Some UK consultants were waiting longer before deciding whether to bring staff back. Six Halcrow engineers were still working in India as NCE went to press.

'We have no plans to do anything while the situation appears to be stabilising, ' said a spokesman on Monday.

'But we do have a contingency plan to get them out quickly if we need to, ' he added.

Mott MacDonald's Lee said he was confident that UK engineers would be returning soon.

'We think it's all going to blow over, ' he said. 'The news is improving but we have to be careful. A single terrorist act could change everything.'


Check Foreign Office advice on India at www. fco. gov. uk

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