Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Why PIOs are finding it hard to visit India

Chennai: People of Indian origin who live abroad continue to find it difficult to travel to India on holidays because a change in norms regarding travel documents was not communicated in time by the ministry of home affairs to travel and tour operators and airlines.
The rule issued by the ministry says that people of Indian origin who are below 20 years should have their OCI (overseas citizenship of India) card re-issued on renewal of their foreign passports and those who have attained 50 years have to get the OCI card re-issued for travel to India.

Many people of Indian origin living in UK, the US, Europe and other countries who travel to India to visit friends and relatives during Christmas and New Year and to attend social functions could not travel after airlines refused to board them. Many had to cancel their trips planned three to four months ago. Others who could not avoid travel had to spend Rs 2,000 to get a fresh visa, pay rebooking charges of close to Rs 12,000 and pay difference in fare.

Basheer Ahmed of Metro Travels said that several families whose trips got cancelled because airlines did not allow them to board could not travel because flights are full for the next two weeks and air fares are high. People from Tamil Nadu have got affected the most because a good number of diaspora live in the US and Europe.

Return air fare is in the range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh from destinations in Europe to Chennai for travel in the last week of December and first week of January.

Zawahir, who holds a French passport, and hails from Mayiladuthurai, said, “I had to leave behind three of my children because the airline did not allow them to board the flight at Paris because their new passport numbers were not on the OCI card on December 16. The airline received an instruction from the Indian embassy but the travel agent who booked my ticket did not know about the new rule. I had to come to Chennai for a wedding which could not be avoided. I sent the children back home with a friend.”
25/12/19 V Ayyappan/Times of India
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