OTHERS

Passenger information system for Indo-Nepal flights

NEW DELHI, JULY 12. Designated airlines of India and Nepal are being instructed to introduce Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) on all routes being operated by them between the two countries. The decision to launch APIS was taken during the recent visit of the Union Home Secretary, Mr. Kamal Pande, to Nepal.

The APIS is likely to be implemented in two months with the coordination and supervision by the respective immigration and civil aviation authorities as part of the strengthening of aviation security. It has been agreed to introduce photo-identity cards from October 1 for air travellers flying into each other's territory.

The step comes nearly seven months after the Indian Airline flight IC-814 operating on the Kathmandu-Delhi route was hijacked, shortly after it took off from Kathmandu. India had suspended Indian Airlines flights to Nepal and the service was resumed only after security measures had been reviewed and tightened. Indian Airlines and Royal Nepal Airlines are operating flights between the two Capital cities. Another sector - Delhi- Varanasi-Kathmandu - is likely to be revived soon.

During the talks with the Home Secretary, the Nepali side informed that the work on the computerisation of immigration facilities and networking of control and monitoring system at Tribhuvan International Airport would begin at the beginning of the coming fiscal year and would be completed in six months. The computerisation and networking of immigration control at check posts along the India-Nepal border was also going to be taken up in a phased manner.

India also agreed to provide training to Nepali immigration officials on the basis of requirements projected by the Nepali side. The first batch of Nepali officials would visit India soon for training.

The two sides also agreed to step up the two-way flow of intelligence with operational value on terrorist and criminal activities. An operational-level group would review arrangements in this regard on a continuing basis.

Noting that a large number of requests for assistance in investigation of criminal cases were pending on both sides, it was agreed that such requests, including those received through the Interpol channels, would be processed on priority. A team from the Interpol Unit of India would visit Nepal this month-end for further discussions.

The two sides also agreed on the need for updating of existing bilateral extradition arrangements in keeping with the requirements of their law enforcement and prosecution agencies and rapidly changing nature of crime. They also agreed to develop an appropriate legal and institutional framework for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

The two sides agreed on the need to improve the management of the border to prevent activities of terrorists.