Northeast NGOs oppose Protected Area Permit withdrawal

Many NGOs from the northeastern states have strongly opposed the central govt`s decision to do away with the Protected Area Permit, a mandatory official authorisation for foreigners to visit the region.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2011, 16:27 PM IST

Aizawl: Many NGOs from the northeastern states have strongly opposed the central government`s decision to do away with the Protected Area Permit (PAP), a mandatory official authorisation for foreigners to visit the region.

The central government had excluded Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland from the PAP regime for a period of one year from Jan 1.

However, the regulation is in place for Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China.

A joint meeting of six NGOs and local organisations, including the Young Mizo Association (YMA), held in Aizawl on Thursday decided to oppose the central government`s decision and submit a memorandum to the union home ministry demanding that the PAP be restored.

"To encourage foreign tourists and foreign nationals, the centre had lifted the PAP from three northeastern states to allow foreigners to enter these states without any restrictions for a period of one year. It would consequentially affect the multi-cultural, diverse religion and multi-ethnic society dominated region", YMA spokesman Zodingliana told reporters.

The Mizoram NGOs have observed that the union home ministry should have sought the consent of the people of the region before lifting the PAP. "The centre took this decision after meeting just two organisations representing the neighbouring state of Manipur."

"We fear that the lifting of PAP would have a detrimental affect on the social security of the ethnic people of these states, specially those dominated by the tribals", Zodingliana said.

The NGOs also fear that the lifting of PAP would further jeopardise the Inner Line Permit (ILP) that safeguards the indigenous people from assimilation since the British rule. The ILP is required for any Indian to enter some of the northeastern states, including Mizoram and Nagaland.

The NGOs also want amendment of some guidelines on the PAP, regarding strict restrictions on the movement of foreign missionaries in northeast India. Over 5.3 million Christians live in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur, and there are some Christians in the other northeastern states.

On an average, 50,000 foreign tourists visit the eight north-eastern states every year.

IANS