|Paro International Airport, Bhutan|
a written reply to a question by M Raja Mohan Reddy in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Minister of State for personnel, public grievances and pensions and MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh gave the reply.
As it’s mentioned in the reply, the proposal is only at an “initial stage” of consideration, and only “some” SAARC countries would be considered. Once implemented, the tourism industries in countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives could be benefited by this move. It’s however unlikely that Pakistan or Bangladesh would be covered by this initiative. In fact, idea of extending LTC benefits to visit four SAARC countries cropped up after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Nepal last year to attend the SAARC summit.
It’s believed that such a move would encourage people to people contact among SAARC nations. New Delhi however expects that reciprocal measures would be extended by those SAARC nations too.
According to the government’s order dated September 26, 2014, the government extended the facility of conversion of home town LTC to visit the states in the North-East region, Jammu and Kashmir and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for a period of two years up to September 25, 2016. This facility was first introduced in the year 2008.
It was however made clear in the Lok Sabha answer that no other proposal is currently under consideration for inclusion of more number of places under the conversion of home town LTC to anywhere in the country.