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ILP will not affect tourism or investment in Meghalaya, says CoMSO chief

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Shillong, Feb 11: The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is not a factor to determine the development of the tourism sector in the state, according to the chairman of the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organizations (CoMSO), Robertjune Kharjahrin.

He was reacting to a recent statement made by Governor Satya Pal Malik that ILP may affect the development of Meghalaya in terms of tourism and investment.

“The statement made by the Governor was not based on facts. Saying that ILP will affect the inflow of tourists in the state and will have an impact on the investment and development is totally wrong,” Kharjahrin, also president of Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) told reporters on Wednesday.

Giving a comparison, he said despite the fact that Sikkim has Prohibited Area Permit and Restricted Area Permit for the foreigners, yet the number of tourists visiting its state is much higher to the inflow of tourists in Meghalaya, which does not have PAP and RAP.

“This is because Sikkim as a state is building up itself by providing good infrastructure to attract tourists but here in Meghalaya, infrastructure is very bad. Who will come to visit our state when you have to wait for one hour to even cross a 5km road of Shillong. People are fed up with the traffic congestion as nothing was done to ease this problem,” he said.

Apart from Sohra, he said look at the other tourist spots in the state, the road condition is pathetic. So Meghalaya should come up with good infrastructures and come up with schemes and policies to promote the tourism sector.

The CoMSO chairman further stated that states which are implementing the ILP like Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are doing much better in terms of GDP during the Eleventh Five year plan when compared to Meghalaya, a state without ILP.

“Why? Maybe they have proper policy or political will to bring development into their states,” he said.

“ILP is more or less like a Visa. Just because you have to apply for a Visa, it does not mean investors from foreign countries will not happen. Most of the foreigners coming to India have to apply for a Visa but still we have many foreign investors in the country.

If you have good policy that will attract the investors, the investors will come but ILP is not something which when you apply, you will not get it because if you produce all the required documents and your objective of visiting the state, everybody will give you.

If you want to invite investors, come up with good policy. If you look at the industries, the state could not even provide adequate power supply to them as the power sector is lacking behind, they have to set up their own grid. So that kind of policy, will it attract investor or what?” he further added.

On the governor’s suggestion to have discussion on ILP, he said “I would like to ask the governor discussion with whom? We already have discussion with the cabinet, MLAs which led to the unanimous passing of the ILP resolution

If we need to discuss, we need to discuss with the Home Ministry, union home minister, prime minister and president of India, we actually want that now. When Amit Shah came here, we wanted to discuss but he didn’t have the time. Now telling us to come to Delhi but doesn’t give appointment, with whom we should discuss.”

“We request the governor that we are also ready to discuss the matter, we are mentally prepared to highlight upon the ministry the need for protection of the indigenous people through the ILP.

He should, as Centre’s representative, make an appointment for all of us including traditional institutions to have a discussion. We are ready to sit the whole day the whole night with the prime minister, president of India provided that they give us an appointment but if not, with whom should we discuss,” Kharjahrin said.

Regarding the governor’s view on the MRSSA, the CoMSO leader said if MRSSA is implemented, it will go a long way to regulate the entry and settlement of people from outside the state but it will not ensure us 100 percent exemption from CAA.

“We don’t know much about the impact of CAA as the rules are yet to be framed. When the rules is framed then you will see lots of people applying for citizenship, so we would like to see ILP is implemented before CAA is implemented so that nobody who has entered and settle illegally in the state of Meghalaya from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan should earn citizenship in Meghalaya,” he said.

Moreover, Kharjahrin said ILP is clear in the eye of law as the Supreme Court has upheld this regulation that it is constitutionally valid but MRSSA, judicial scrutiny has just begun.

“Of course in my opinion, the Supreme Court and High Court will uphold this legislation not just MRSSA but also MRSSAB but we never know what will be the opinion of the court. it is too early to give a 100 percent opinion. But ILP is constitutionally valid so it is wise on our part to go for it,” he said.

Stating that ILP and MRSSA complement each other very well, Kharjahrin said the two are not contradictory against each other.

“We therefore request the governor to give his assent to the MRSSAB, 2020. He doesn’t need to wait for the ministry’s approval as the MRSSA was framed and is under state subject. Regarding this, the governor should listen to the advice of the council of ministers,” he stated.

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