Tourism Current Affairs

Protected Area Permit regime: MHA allows foreign tourists to visit Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed six-decade-old protected area permit (PAP) regime to allow foreign tourists to access border areas of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1, 2018 with protected area permit (PAP). The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the states. However, citizens from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, will remain  to be banned from all PAP areas, including Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.

Protected areas Regime and Protected area permit (PAP)

Under Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between Inner line and International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas. The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under protected area regime while others under restricted area regime. As per MHA’s December 2010 circular, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 2011, subject to some conditions.

Guidelines: Under Protected areas Regime, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit. Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit (PAP) from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.

Permit issuing Authority: Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without prior approval of MHA to facilitate foreign tourists subject to certain exceptions In cases of foreign diplomats, including members of United Nations (UN) and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). In cases of citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit can be issued without prior approval of MHA.

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Government launches e-FRRO scheme to facilitate hassle-free travel for foreigners

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched web-based application e-FRRO (e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office) to allow foreign tourists and travellers to avail of paperless and cashless visa-related services.

e-FRRO eliminates need for any human interface and using it foreigners touring India will be no longer need to physically visit office of Foreigners Registration Office or Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRO/FRRO) for visa-related services including registration and visa extension.

e-FRRO scheme

Objectives

  • Build centralized, transparent online platform for foreigners to avail visa related services.
  • Provide faceless, cashless and paperless services to foreigners with user friendly experience.

Salient features: Online FRRO Service delivery mechanism without requirement of visiting FRRO/FRO office barring exceptional cases.

In this online system, foreigners can get as many as 27 visa and immigration-related services in India from comfort of their place of stay. Using e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online on portal and obtain services through email and post without appearing in person at FRO/FRRO office.

Using this application, foreigners are required to create their own User ID by registering themselves. Afterwards, they can apply online through registered user ID for various visa and immigration related services in India viz. registration, visa extension, visa conversion, exit permit etc.

The e-FRRO scheme is being implemented on Immigration, Visa, Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) with negligible extra expenditure, taking  cue from already successfully running e-visa scheme that has earned revenue of more than Rs. 1400 crore since its launch in November 2014.

Background

In present system, foreigners staying in India on Visa duration of more than 180 days have to get themselves registered with their respective FROs/FRROs. Similarly, foreigners requiring different kind of visa related services such as Visa extension, Change of address, Visa Conversion, Change of Educational institutions, Exit permits etc. are currently required to visit the FROs/FRROs office.

e-FRRO has been running successfully as pilot project in four FRROs (Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai) since February 2018. Now it has been rolled out in remaining eight FRROs across the country – namely Kolkata, Amritsar, Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Hyderabad, Calicut, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.

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