Relaxing restrictions for foreigners


Foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan and China, may soon be allowed to visit some of the most pristine locations of the country, kept out of bound so far for them without a special permit.
The Union Home Ministry is examining whether to relax the six-decade-old Restricted Area Permit regime, under which foreigners must obtain a special permission to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir among others. Discussions are on with the State Governments to relax the Restricted Area Permit provisions for some areas for foreign tourists this was stated by Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju few days back. The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the State. Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some States have been declared as protected areas.
As per a December 30, 2010 circular of the MHA, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from the protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 1, 2011, subject to some conditions. As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify his or her visit. Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits to a foreigner, seeking it. In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Union Government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit. In cases of foreign diplomats, including the members of the United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, the special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

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