In a notification, Ladakh UT’s Home Department said the requirement of an ILP for the Indian nationals, including domestic tourists and local residents, to visit the notified protected areas has been completely removed. However, foreigners intending to visit these protected areas still need to apply for a permit (Protected Area Permit). But the validity of the permit for foreign tourists has now been extended from seven days to 15 days.
Earlier, it was mandatory for domestic tourists to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) from authorities before visiting the inner areas of Ladakh. Earlier, Indian tourists were only allowed to visit areas beyond Panamik till Warshi including Yarma Gompa/Yarma Gonbo Monastery in Leh’s Nubra Valley.
The protected areas are located near the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. There are several check posts on the roads leading to these areas. This move helps Indian nationals to move to Ladakh and the extension of foreigners will boost rural tourism in Ladakh.
Inner Line Permit system: An Inner Line Permit is a document that allows an Indian citizen to visit or stay in a state that is protected under the ILP system. The system is in force today in three Northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram — and no Indian citizen can visit any of these states unless he or she belongs to that state, nor can he or she overstay beyond the period specified in the ILP.
The concept comes from the colonial area. Under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, the British framed regulations restricting the entry and regulating the stay of outsiders in designated areas. This was to protect the Crown’s own commercial interests by preventing “British subjects” (Indians) from trading within these regions. In 1950, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India”. This was to address local concerns about protecting the interests of the indigenous people from outsiders belonging to other Indian states. An ILP is issued by the state government concerned. It can be obtained after applying either online or physically. It states the dates of travel and also specifies the particular areas in the state which the ILP holder can travel to.