Special Correspondent

The move is to check illegal activities of foreigners

PANAJI: In its bid to check illegal activities of foreigners arriving on tourist visa, the Goa Government will urge the Union Government to shorten the tenure of the tourist visa to three months from six months.

Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane told the State Assembly during question hour on Monday while genuine tourists found three months' time sufficient, it was the undesirable elements who misused the tourist visa to overstay and indulged in illegal activities.

The issue of large-scale land purchases by foreigners on tourist visa came in for serious debate.

On the concerns raised by Leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar that the Government should check the massive land transactions in the State, Mr. Rane said: "We have taken a serious view of the people coming here and indulging illegal activities and deported 26 such persons."

Mr. Parrikar urged the Government to make it mandatory for registering authorities to send land sale transactions above a particular cut-off level to the Government for scrutiny. He said that land belonging to Communidades, local age-old village land communes, was being sold illegally.

Mr. Rane said the Government had ordered an inquiry into dubious cases where the land was purchased by foreigners on tourist visa by violating provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

Sources in the State police told The Hindu that many of the foreigners have stayed on by extending their tourist visas. Many of these people inevitably return to India with an extension of the period of their stay. The State police had been compiling data about history-sheeters known to indulge in drugs, paedophiles, etc., among these foreigners who are invariably found to be overstaying.

The issue gained momentum after the Nationalist Congress Party's Youth Wing raised the issue accusing the registering authorities of conniving to register illegal purchases. Sources in the Land Registration Department, said that they could not question the validity of the land purchase under foreign exchange provisions.

The Chief Minister responded by saying that his Government would send circulars to sub-registrars to submit details of foreigners seeking registration for buying property and promised to study the position before registering properties.