COVID-19: 4 NE states stop permits for outside visitors

COVID-19: Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal stop permits for outside visitors; airfares go up

Coronavirus screening in LGBI airport, Guwahati. (Photo credit: Airport Authority of India) 

Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal with Inner Line Permit (ILP) system have stopped issuing the permits to prevent the spread of coronavirus, thereby making it impossible for outsiders to visit these states.

Manipur Home Department on Tuesday issued a notification directing the concerned agencies to stop issuing ILP till April 15, barring unavoidable visitors. The move comes days after Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunchal Pradesh also took a similar decision. 

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The notification signed by H Gyan Prakash, Special Secretary (Home) also directed the Deputy Resident Commissioners in Manipur Bhawan in New Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati to suspend the process to issue ILP in view of the "impending threat" of coronavirus infection. It was also directed to suspend the online system to issue the ILPs.

ILPs are a must for outside visitors to come to Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and now Manipur, which was imposed under the Assam Bengal (Frontier Regulation) Act 1873. The permits are seen as a deterrent against settlement of "illegal migrants" as the region shares 99% of its borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Bhutan. 

Sources said those carrying essential commodities are only issued the ILP at present.

Airfare goes up: 

Many in the Northeast on Wednesday complained that most of the private airlines hiked the airfare suddenly as students and professionals from the region, who live outside the state, were rushing home in view of the coronavirus fears.

"In view of COVID-19 fear, more and more people of North East India are returning to their homes from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Siliguri because of the closure of workplaces, schools and colleges. This has led to hike in the price of air tickets. In this hour of crisis, is it justified on the part of the airlines to charge exorbitant fares? Is it not incumbent on the government to regulate the price of air tickets because the people have no other alternative. At the same time, the government must ensure that no person infected with the virus boards the planes," Guwahati-based lawyer Bhaskar Dev Konwar posted in Facebook. He also posted a screenshot of fairs charged by the airlines. It showed the airlines hiking the airfare between Mumbai and Guwahati up to Rs 19,000. The normal fare in the route is between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000.

Binalakshmi Nepram, a human rights activist from Manipur said a Manipuri student in Bengaluru informed her that a private airline almost tripled the price of flight ticket from the city to Imphal. "This is wrong on the part of the airlines to exploit the students at the time of the pandemic. I have appealed to the airline and also alerted Minister of Aviation Hardeep Puri as well as Minister Jitendra Singh to stop this," Nepram also posted in Facebook.

Domestic passengers screening: 

Assam has started screening all passengers (foreigners and domestic) in the state's airports in Guwahati, Silchar, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur as part of its preparation to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The state government on Monday asked all students and professionals coming back from states like Karnataka and Kerala to go for coronavirus test. 

GoAir, a private airline that runs Kolkata-Guwahati-Imphal-Aizawl flight suspended their operation in view of the coronavirus fear. The proposed direct flight between Delhi and Aizawl, which was scheduled to be introduced by the airline on March 29, has also been postponed.


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