ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

So close and yet so tedious to get there!

By Rita Perera, Kelaniya

India is probably one of the most popular travel destinations for Sri Lankans of all ages.

However, getting a visa to get there, from the Indian High Commission, in Colombo, is to say the least, a very tiring and painful experience! There must surely be less traumatic ways of issuing visas to genuine travellers who intend visiting India. Anyone who happens to pass by the Galle Road, on a morning on any working day will see the milling crowds, albeit contained by protective barricades outside the Indian High Commission.

If the High Commission can process only 500 visa applications per day, there should be notices prominently and publicly displayed stating this fact. The reason for mentioning this number is that an Indian official suddenly appeared and peremptorily told the ‘gate-keepers’ to restrict entry to 500 only. Maybe this number of tokens or numbers could be given on a first come, first served basis. Perhaps 50 or so could be reserved for clergy and those over 65 years of age and extending such consideration to clerical status and age will not be resented.

Another means of reducing congestion and accommodating as many genuine visa seekers as possible is to process those merely interested in making inquiries at a separate counter. For instance, on this particular day, February 19, a large horde of boys (some seemed as young as 10 years), all clutching their passports and completed visa forms, were in the long queue as it snaked its way, up the stairs to the office area. They were then directed to the inquiries section and soon vanished, probably sent away summarily, while all the other visa seekers waited in the main hall for their token numbers to be called and their visa applications processed.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.