To curb the growing number of middlemen outside Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs),the office of the regional passport officer,Lucknow,plans to set up Public Facilitation Centres (PFCs) outside these offices and in post offices.
Passport Seva Kendras,a public private partnership project launched by the Ministry of External Affairs in association with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in March this year,enables people to fill up the passport form online. After filling up the form,applicants are required to get an application reference number (ARN) and make an appointment with the nearest Passport Seva Kendra to verify the details in person and record biometric data. All this was done to cut waiting time for applicants and improve efficiency.
However,as per feedback received by the passport office,internet cafes mushroomed outside these PSKs,along with middlemen who would promise to get the work done but also charge a hefty fee. To minimise their role,TCS blocked for a day the IP addresses which made more than four appointments daily. However,this proved ineffective too,as per the complaints.
The regional passport office is now planning PFCs,which will help the public fill the forms,obtain ARN number and make an appointment online.
It is not clear whether they too will charge for the services. It is still in conceptualisation stage. We are still working out the details, said J P Singh,Regional Passport Officer,Lucknow.