The Union Home Ministry has decided to relax the six-decade-old Protected Area Permit regime from the North-Eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for a period of five years.
The Government has also decided to relax the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime in Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar.
The decision would allow foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, to visit the states and union territories without having a special permit. Earlier, the regions were out of bounds for tourists of other nations without the permit. The restriction is in place mainly due to security reasons.
The main objective behind these relaxations is to promote tourism in the concerned regions.
The government from time to time by notification exempts some of the restricted or protected areas from the need of special permission for foreigners to visit them.
What is a Protected Area?
• According to the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states are known as protected areas.
• Most of these protected/ restricted areas are remote locations, situated away from normal tourist destinations.
What is a Protected Area Permit (PAP)?
• The Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958 requires non-Indian citizens to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit the protected/ restricted areas in India.
• This requirement is in addition to getting an Indian visa. In order to get the permit, the foreign nationals must meet certain requirements.
• Even Indian citizens who are not residents of those areas require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter these places. The Inner Line Permit is, however, significantly easier to get.
• Citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar can get the PAP only with the approval of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs
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Duration of PAP
• The PAP is normally valid for a duration of 10 days, with the option of extension for another 7 days.
• The PAP is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
• However, the different authorities of the concerned Indian states can also issue the PAP, and also the Indian missions abroad.
Areas for which PAP is required
• Till recently, the PAP was required for north-eastern states including the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
• With the current decision, the protected area in the north-east will be restricted to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
• Parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir also fall under the protected area category and require PAP.
• In case of Sikkim, some parts of the state fall under the protected area regime while others in the restricted area.
• Previously, PAP was required for Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and the Darjeeling area of West Bengal.
Areas for which RAP is required
The Restricted Area Permit was earlier required to visit the whole of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and some parts of Sikkim.
When the new relaxation by the government will come through, the permit would only be required in certain areas of Sikkim in the north east.
Who: Union Home Ministry
Why: Without permit