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Anti-PAP Drive Gains Momentum

States in North-East India where PAP is in effect...

IMPHAL, Dec 19: As part of a global online signature campaign demanding the centre to remove the Protected Area Permit (PAP) from Manipur, a group of social activists of the State on Sunday held a motor rally-cum-awareness campaign at Imphal.

Interestingly Manipur Tourism Minister TN Haokip and Irrigation and Flood Control Minister N Biren Singh also signed the petition initiated by the Manipur Association for Canada.

PAP restricts the visit of foreigners to Manipur. It also restricts even the overseas Manipuris born in India who wish to visit their home State.

Addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram, the petition said ‘Remove the PAP system from Manipur to allow unrestricted entry of foreign visitors and overseas Manipuris of Indian origin to Manipur with an aim of giving a fair chance to the people in the region to meaningfully participate in India’s development programs involving foreign investment, international trade and tourism etc.’

The  petition while pointing out  the purpose of imposing the PAP as stated by the Home Ministry is protection of culture of the people in certain parts of the country, questioned as  how foreigners visiting Manipur  for business or as tourist can harm to Manipuris while no Indians have come to harm ?’

In spite of its beauty, natural resources and vivacious people Manipur had to witness a general decline in value system among its populace during the past four decades of its socio-political strife, it said.

‘Perhaps a paradigm shift may be required in India’s development approach in the north east region from the subsidy dispensing mode to a capacity building one. Removal of PAP is one essential step in this line,’ added the petition.

Headed by social worker RK Shivachandra, the local activists under the banner of Local Support Group in Removal of PAP (LOSGRO) Manipur, besides distributing pamphlets on the matter also held street corner meetings at various places including Khongnanganikarak, Singjamei and Kwakeithel.

Stating that entry of foreigners and investors and tourists has been restricted under the PAP culminating in halting all developmental fronts, Shivachandra termed the act as a ‘˜silent killer.’

‘This being the case, the act should be removed from the state and tourism industry should be developed,’ Shivachandra said adding that the campaign will cover in all districts of the state to ensure  the people stand up and shout in unison against the PAP.

On Friday ministers N Biren and TN Haokip signed the petition on the sidelines of the inauguration of a park at Laphupokpi village in the foothills of Baruni in Imphl East. Both of them also vowed to extend their fullest operation in removing the act in future.

Biren, who said the state government is against PAP, said it triggered negative effects to the general public.

Echoing Biren, tourism minister Haokip said he has been urging the centre for removing the act since 1990.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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Normally the PAP has a duration of 10 days, with the option of extending for another 7 days. The PAP is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, the different authorities of the concerned Indian provinces can also issue the PAP, and also the Indian missions abroad. Normally the travel agent will take care of getting the PAP for the tourists.

Areas for which a PAP is required

Parts of Jammu and Kashmir

Parts of Himachal Pradesh

Parts of Uttar Pradesh

All of Arunachal Pradesh

All of Nagaland

All of Manipur

All of Mizoram

Areas for which a RAP is required

All of Andaman and Nicobar

Parts of Sikkim

Areas for which the PAP Requirement was lifted

Assam

Meghalaya

Tripura

Problems

At the moment only a touristic visit is a widely accepted purpose for a non-Indian’s visit to a protected area. However, there are also other legitimate reasons why a non-Indian would want to visit these areas, for example if such a person is married to a native person of this area to visit his in-laws. For this purpose much more time than 10 days is required. As a consequence native people from the concerned areas who are married to a non-Indian or having children of a different nationality cannot settle permanently in their native area with their family because it is not possible to get a permanent permit for their non-Indian family-members.

One of the intended purposes of this policy was to protect the culture of the native people living there from the influence of outsiders. However, since it is quite easy for Indians to get an Inner Line Permit many Indians from other regions of India are moving to these regions. It is doubtful whether a large number of permanently residing Indians (from a significant different cultural background compared to the tribals) are having a lesser impact on the culture of the tribals than temporary visiting tourists.

Technically Indians with NRI status (i.e. Indians who are staying abroad for more than 6 months) are not eligible for the Inner Line Permit and therefore have to apply for a Protected Area Permit if they wish to visit the concerned areas. Of course this means that even native people of these areas have to apply for a Protected Area Permit once they become NRI. The same applies for PIO Card holders and Overseas Citizens of India.

Furthermore, there are no border controls at the protected areas’ land borders, so if someone “looks native,” he/she can travel undetected in the protected area even if he/she does not have proper documentation.

(Courtesy: Wikipedia)

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Related Sites:

*The Sangai Express- Largest Circulated News Paper In Manipur
*E-Pao! :: Complete e-platform for Manipuris


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