NEW DELHI, Dec 23: India has opened access for all Nepali citizens to the duty free shops at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) after nine months of bureaucratic processes.
The existing rule was reversed after India´s Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the Department of Customs, which in turn wrote to the Department to Commerce to allow access to Nepalis to shop at the duty-free outlet at IGIA.
The new facility has been extended to Bhutanese people as well, who too were denied access earlier.
“Nepalis can now shop at the duty-free shops at the international airport,” a knowledgeable source in Delhi told Republica, adding, “Notification to this effect will be issued as soon as possible to the airport authorities.”
Even without the final notification, Nepalis have already been given the access at the airport shops as many Nepalis are already shopping there, IGIA customs data show.
An Indian government customs rule governing IGIA had barred Nepali nationals the access to duty-free commodities. This also applied to the Bhutanese as well. Nepalis and Bhutanese citizens do not require visa to travel to India.
All kinds of purchases at IGIA shops were stopped and Nepali and Bhutanese travelers were told that they cannot purchase duty-free items using their passports. Even purchases in dollars were not allowed.
However, the same rule did not apply to passengers while departing from IGIA, which means Nepalis and Bhutanese could not buy from duty-free shops while arriving but have been purchasing while leaving from New Delhi. The Baggage Rule, however, did not specify this.
India´s Baggage (Amendment) Rules, 2006 – (Baggage Rules, 1998) — stated that tourists of Nepali origin coming from Nepal or of Bhutanese origin coming from Bhutan are not allowed free allowance (Appendix E. c).
The rule did not apply to bureaucrats, Nepalis carrying blue passports and influential businessmen.
IGIA by all international standards is considered the fourth best in the world.AKANSHYA SHAH from Republica