Britain to open deputy high commission in Chandigarh

Chandigarh, May 23: Chandigarh will have a British deputy high commission by the end of 2012, British High Commissioner James Bevan announced here Wednesday.

The deputy high commission will cater to the needs of people from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Punjab alone accounts for thousands of visa applications for Britain every year.

Bevan told media here that the deputy high commission is likely to be operational in Chandigarh by the end of 2012. Another deputy high commission is being opened by the British government in Hyderabad, he said.

The new deputy high commission here will provide most of the services of the high commission in New Delhi.

“We are looking at a stronger relationship with this part of India, especially Punjab and Haryana. There are some big opportunities for Britain in this region,” Bevan said.

“The expansion shows the confidence of the British government in India. We are looking for partnership in trade and investment, education and English teaching and research. British establishments can help in the infrastructure sector, like roads and highways, in this region. British supply chain companies can help in the agriculture sector,” he said.

Bevan said that he wanted the 10 billion-pound bilateral trade between India and Britain to be double by 2015.

He said the British government was not imposing any restrictions on immigration though the rules had become strict. He said the strictness was to curb illegal immigration to Britain.

“We have an economic difficulty in the UK. We don’t want to admit people who cannot contribute to the UK economy,” he said.

He pointed out that in the past year, over 87 percent of the total visa applicants of various categories from India had got visas for Britain.

He said that over 250,000 applicants got visitors’ visa (90 percent), nearly 60,000 got business visas (95 percent) and over 30,000 got students’ visa (75 percent).

IANS