Road construction by Chinese firm blocked due to new visa policy

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Shimla. Dec 18 (ANI) : The Long Jian Road and Bridge Company, a Chinese firm engaged in the construction of a road in Himachal Pradesh is unable to execute the project, due to the non- extension of visas to 11 of its employees.

Further the company is also apprehending opposition from the very state for which it is executing this project vis-'-vis the question of the skilled and non-skilled labourers, which the government says cannot be from China but the local people.

The work has been stalled on this 35.4 billion rupees United Nations funded project for the last 5-6 months due to a new visa policy introduced by the Indian government resulting in many Chinese workers not being able to come back to India and resume work to complete the project.

The new policy made it mandatory for those technicians and other workers to get a new work visas instead of the business visas through which they had entered India earlier.

As a result, many of these workers had to go back to China to acquire the work visa.

"Actually the two projects nearly stopped about 5-6 months back. The main reason is Indian new visa policy. Chinese, they have to go back to China to apply for the working visa. That new policy Indians told...Chinese with business visa were working in India before; so now they are all back to China to apply for the new visa," said Liu Shu Jun, chief representative, Long Jian Road and Bridge Limited Company.

However, Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Gulab Singh Thakur, claimed that the new visa has been issued to all the technicians.

Further Thakur highlighted the other aspect that according to the new policy only highly skilled technicians would only be allowed to come and work in India and the rest of them like the drivers or cooks or others such workers should be hired only from India.

"Indian government has said that with working visa, people can come and (particularly) those who are technically highly skilled people. The rest of them like labourers, cook or small technicians should be all Indians. In this case they should be all from Himachal. The government will not allow labourers, cook or drivers (of Chinese origin). That's a good thing," Thakur said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese firm is waiting for all its workers who had left the country to acquire their new visas to return.

The Chinese firm and the PWD of Himachal Pradesh are now working on coming to terms with the new rules so that the work on the road project can be resume at the earliest.

The contract for the construction project of the two roads of 125 kilometres in Una and Shimla was allotted to this Chinese firm.

The project was sanctioned in June 2008 with a target to complete it by 2010 but with the work having come to a standstill for the past six months, it is doubtful whether the probable date of completion will be in 2010. (ANI)

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