The decision to introduce Inner-line Permit (ILP) regime in Meghalaya will be the beginning of the end of the state’s growing tourism industry.
The Meghalaya Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution for implementing ILP, which will impose restrictions on the entry of ‘outsiders’ in the hill state.
During the last few decades, pressure groups, mostly students unions and youth organizations, have been demanding for ILP in Meghalaya.
But, taking into account the prospect of growth of the tourism sector, successive governments did not take any decision on the ILP demand.
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Finally, the Meghalaya Assembly decided to adopt a resolution under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873 to introduce ILP.
Members of the Meghalaya Assembly unanimously decided that to safeguard and protect the rights of the indigenous people of the state, introduction of ILP was the need of the hour.
Now, the onus is on the Centre to introduce ILP in Meghalaya.
At present, ILP is applicable in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
But, people of Meghalaya, who are directly or indirectly involved in tourism business, will not be happy at all with introduction of ILP.
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Hotel owners and tour operators in Meghalaya know that introduction of ILP will kill the tourism sector in the state.
In fact, Meghalaya is the most beautiful state in the northeast, and it gets a large number of domestic tourists from the mainland states.
But, highest numbers of tourists to Meghalaya are from Assam.
Every day, thousands of people from different districts of Assam undertake impromptu tourism voyages to Meghalaya.
Sometimes when temperatures soar during peak summer months in Guwahati, people in hordes drive straight to Shillong to spend couple of cool and happy days.
In addition to Shillong, tourists from Assam are also fascinated with Cherrapunjee.
But, once ILP is introduced, Meghalaya is going to miss the ad lib tourists from Assam.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently introduced ILP in Manipur as well.
The Nagaland government has also decided to introduce IMP in the commercial town of Dimapur.
But, Meghalaya is going to be the biggest loser if ILP is introduced in the state.