Gangtok: As tourist season is around the corner in Sikkim — despite the coronavirus scare looming large — the state police department has revived the ‘green card’ system. It gives drivers and travel agents easy access to protected or restricted areas.

The concept was first brought about in 2015, but was soon shelved owing to various reasons. Now, starting from Friday, drivers and travel agents can avail of the green card for their commuting needs.

Speaking with EastMojo, police inspector Kinga T Bhutia from the 2nd Mile Check post, said: “Once issued, the green card will ensure that drivers will not have to opt for a series of documents to be submitted for everyday travel to restricted areas. Ideally, drivers have to come and apply for the permit every day for every commute. With a green card, that issue will be taken care of.”

2nd Mile Check Post connects the state capital with the restricted and protected areas of East Sikkim.

“It is less time consuming and also environment-friendly as photocopies of documents need not be submitted every day,” he added.

In Sikkim, permits for restricted or protected areas are mandatory for travelling to places like Changu Lake, Nathula, Dzuluk, Lachen, Lachung and Gurudongmar lake, besides many other popular tourist spots.

“The drivers have to submit many documents related to the vehicles, including insurance papers, driving licence. Photocopies of the same have to be submitted every day. It is time consuming. Also, a lot of paper is wasted in the process. This is not environment-friendly,” the inspector added.

The green card can be procured from the permit office in Zero Point, Gangtok for North Sikkim and East Sikkim districts. “As for the requirements, the vehicle needs to have a minimum three months of validity left. Once we issue a green card, a copy remains with us and the other is given to the driver,” added Bhutia.

The green card will be issued to all taxi owners if they come to the police department willingly. “Every driver, irrespective of whether they carry tourists regularly or not, can apply,” informed the Sikkim Police official.

Also read: COVID-19 surge: Sikkim issues new guidelines for tourists

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