The Union Home Ministry has decided to grant the power of issuing “Protected Area Permits” (PAP) and “Restricted Area Permits” (RAP) to foreign nationals to the home departments of State governments and the Union Territory administration concerned.
The decision came after the provisions for the grant of PAP and RAP to foreign nationals were reviewed in the Home Ministry by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Friday.
“The powers to grant PAP or RAP to foreign nationals have been delegated to the home department of the State government/UT administration concerned or the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers.
“The delegation of power will not be applicable to nationals of countries under Prior Reference Category. This move will facilitate foreign tourists to visit some of the pristine locations of the country,” an official statement issued from Rijiju’s office said on Friday.
As per previous guidelines, approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs was required before grant of PAP or RAP to a foreign national, in case they intended to visit a place which needed a PAP or RAP for activities other than tourism on a visa other than tourist visa.
Presently, whole of Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Uttarakhand are covered under the provisions of the “Protected Areas”.
Certain areas of Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been declared as `Restricted Areas’.
While Arunachal Pradesh shares its boundary with China and Bhutan, Sikkim is surrounded from three sides by three countries Bhutan, China and Nepal.