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Governor fuels debate on ILP

Itanagar, Feb. 21: Arunachal Pradesh governor S.K. Singh has fuelled the debate on the efficacy of the inner line permit (ILP) and restricted area permit (RAP) rules, describing these as outmoded laws that facilitate corruption and impede development.

'Except for abetting corruption (in the departments that issue these permits), the ILP and RAP systems serve no purpose,' Singh said during an exclusive interview to The Telegraph .

Singh, who took over as the governor of Arunachal Pradesh in December, blamed the twin laws for the unsatisfactory growth of the tourism sector.

Inner line permits are at present required to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Foreigners have to procure restricted area permits whenever they visit the Northeast.

The rules were ostensibly introduced to protect the indigenous people from being outnumbered by the so-called outsiders.

'Those who have to visit these states are coming anyway. The only point is that they are facing problems by way of harassment at the hands of corrupt employees. The ILP and RAP systems need to be done away with,' Singh, a former foreign secretary and the longest serving ambassador to Pakistan, said.

The governor made a case for evolving a consensus on revoking the twin laws. 'I came here only recently. Moreover, as a governor, I have certain constraints. But I am trying to mobilise public opinion in this regard,' he said.

Singh was also critical of the reservation policy, referring to it as an effective pollitical tool to capture power. He said reservation had had a negative impact on a section of the youth, killing their ability to withstand fair competition. 'Reservation is encouraging the concept of freebies. Unfortunately, we cannot do much about it. There are some ills that cannot be cured, these have to be endured.'

In a philosophical tone, the governor said he was hopeful of the reservation policy being laid to rest someday but not in his lifetime. 'We have to accept the law of gradual change. But I am hopeful that gradually the reservation will go. But I don't know whether I will live to see that day.'

On the border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Singh said it was under control and the chief ministers of the two states were constantly in touch with each other to maintain normality.

'The dispute is now in court and it will decide on the boundary. At the same time, Arunachal chief minister Gegong Apang is constantly in touch with his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi.'

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