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Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)

Agents want cut in licence fee

Aman Sood in Patiala
Authorities claim repeated reminders by the state government have failed to wake up a large number of travel agents in Punjab. The law requires travel agents, emigration consultants, ticketing agents and coaching institute of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to register at the SDM office. “If any person, company or firm found working without a valid licence, action will be taken under the Punjab Human Trafficking Prevention Rules, 2014,” says the order. 

Travel agents are demanding a reduction in the licence fee and removal of the provision of allowing search and confiscation of records from their houses without a search warrant. The Act states that if a travel agent is found working without a licence, then he/she can be sent to jail for three to seven years with a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. The licence has to be renewed every five years. Those into the business for over five years have been asked to deposit Rs 1 lakh while those who are running the business below that have been told to deposit Rs 25,000. 

“In addition, the Suwidha Centres collect Rs 1,500 for processing an application, which is to be routed to the offices of SDMs, police stations and even CID offices,” says a travel agent.

In most cases, the English language centres are themselves sending students abroad, through private tie-ups. This means they are pocketing a hefty commission from foreign universities. “In other cases, agents send people abroad with fake papers. The sad part is that people know that they are using wrong means to go abroad but they only approach the police when they are either arrested abroad or end up jobless,” says a registered travel agent. 

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