Indian nationals travelling to Ladakh will no longer have to secure an inner line permit. In a bid to welcome tourists, the administration of the Union Territory has now done away with the mandatory permit for entry into the notified protected areas in the interior part of the Union Territory. The Ladakh Home Department has also said that 'residents of the protected area' can visit other protected areas 'without any permit'.
The inner line permit is a document that is required to enter 'protected' areas in several states and union territories. Simply put, the document (obtained for a fee) allows Indian citizens to visit or stay in such states. While domestic travellers to Ladakh no longer require such a permit, the system remains in force for several of the north-eastern states. An ILP can be obtained online as well as offline, and outlines the dates of travel and the areas the holder is permitted to access.
Visitors to places such as the Khardung La and Nubra Valley would have required such a permit. One would have to pay an environmental fee of Rs 300, Red Cross donation of Rs 100 as well as a small daily wildlife protection fee. Note that the requirements for foreigners remain intact, with no exemptions being made for Protected Area Permits.
The news has garnered a mixed bag of reactions from locals. "This is a very positive step. Earlier tourists had to visit the offices for the inner line permit, now they will be relaxed. It will be helpful to them," a tourist from Jammu told news agency ANI.
"We support inner line permit. We share our borders with Pakistan and China. Tourists' safety is a reason too. We used to give them minimum two nights stay to get acclimatised to the altitude. Livelihood will be affected, we used to get bookings," countered Delex Namgyal, the President of the All Ladakh Tour Operators Association.
In related news, the Ladakh Police has recently launched a Tourist Wing. Inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor R K Mathur on Friday, it will deal with the issues faced by the tourists visiting the union territory. The personnel will also ensure environment-friendly activities by the tourists.
(With inputs from agencies)
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