As the deadline for the registration of travel agents with the government under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012 ended on November 30, so far only 17 agents have submitted their application in the district.
In a bid to check the menace of “illegal human trafficking” the state government has enacted the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012 and it was made mandatory for each and every travel agent and immigration companies to get themselves registered with the state government before November 30.
“We have received only 17 applications so far and the applicants were told that these would be forwarded to the department concerned in Chandigarh,” one of the managers of Suwidha Center told Hindustan Times.
Asked about the fate of those travel agents, who did not come forward for the mandatory registration, sources said that even the local administration was in dark and whatever action would be recommended, it would be from the higher ups sitting in Chandigarh.
It is pertinent to mention here that Jalandhar, which is known as the NRI capital of the state, is hub of travel agents and immigration companies and more than 250 such offices are functional there.
For registration every travel agent company was to deposit all the details of the company apart from depositing the fee of `1lakh by old companies and `25,000 by the companies opened during the last five years.
Meanwhile, president of the Punjab Travel Agents Association, Jatinder Walia, said: “No one from the association has applied for registration, as there are several drawbacks in the act, which needs immediate amendments.”
“Even those, who had applied for registration, were also told by the administration that their fate will be known to them only in June 2014,” Walia said.
“There are huge formalities in filling up the forms because as many as 12 certified documents are needed to be deposited along with the forms,” he said adding that even the list of all the relatives settled abroad was also needed along with application, which is virtually nuisance.
“We have met the secretary (home) Sarabjit Singh on Wednesday and apprised him with the amendments sought in the act,” Walia said added that the latter had assured them of doing something needful in the coming days.
Walia said that a representation on behalf of Punjab Travel Agents Association was submitted to the state government seeking exemption as every member of the association is already registered in Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).
Travel agents, who are not running the business of human smuggling in general and on “IATA Accredited Travel Agent, members of TAAI” in particular by making suitable amendments in the act and rules, should be exempted from the purview of act, he demanded.
Moreover, the name of the act i.e. Prevention of Human Smuggling Act did not sound well as the words “human smuggling”, gave wrong impression about the travel agent in front of their international counterparts, Walia added.