New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani's lobbying with Home Minister Shivraj Patil to expedite visa clearance for nearly 1,800 Chinese technical executives involved in the 1,400-km long Kakinada-Bharuch pipeline has paid off. The home ministry Thursday issued modified guidelines for grant of visa to Chinese nationals and extension of their stay in the country.
'The objective is to further streamline the visa procedures for obviating the delay in processing of applications for granting or extending Indian visa to Chinese nationals,' a ministry release said.
RIL had recently hired around 1,800 Chinese experts after entering into a contract with China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Corporation (CPPE) to bring the requisite expertise for the pipeline project and see that it is in place by 2009.
The pipeline project is expected to transport gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin in Andhra Pradesh to Gujarat and the Chinese engineers are expected to chip in with their skills.
In this connection, Ambani had met up with Patil and Home Secretary V.K. Duggal earlier this week to press RIL's case.
Incidentally, even Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi, had raised concerns over tough Indian visa regulations last month and what he calls the imbalance in treatment of Chinese companies to participate in projects in India.
Sun also said it was more difficult for Chinese tourists to get visas to India than the other way around.
Currently about 500,000 people travel between the two countries. Of that number, nearly 400,000 are Indians, a majority of them making business trips. On the other hand, 100,000 Chinese travellers come to India - half of them come to do business.
The requirement of visa renewal after every three months acts as a deterrent, Sun said.
'How can managers leave projects every three months?' he said, adding that China gives two-year multiple-entry visas, which can be extended without leaving the country.
The ministry pointed out that the modified guidelines aim at enhancing the relatively short validity, particularly of Business and Employment visas and their subsequent extensions within the contours of the memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed between India and China in June 2003.
The modified guidelines issued will ensure easier movement of genuine Chinese businesspersons, professionals, students and their dependents in India.