Updated: September 8, 2021 7:27:08 am
The Common Services Centres (CSC) has received approvals to manage and operate Passport Seva Kendra kiosks in rural areas, sources in the know of the development told The Indian Express.
The village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs), who operate the CSCs, will be entrusted will collecting documents, photographs and other details necessary for the passport process as well as the initial non-police verification, a source said, adding that a nominal fee of up to Rs 100 could be charged for the same.
The pilot for the programme was launched at a few CSCs in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Full-fledged services will be rolled out nationwide soon, a source said. At present, CSCs are allowed only to fill and upload application forms for others, pay applicable fee on an applicant’s behalf, and schedule an appointment for them.
The CSC, a special purpose vehicle of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), has over the past three years tied up with partners,both in the public and private sector, across domains by leveraging their presence across the country.
Earlier in August, Tata Motors signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen its commercial vehicle reach in rural India. Apart from Tata Motors, companies like Renault and Bajaj Auto are also likely to sign agreements to benefit from the last mile delivery system of the CSCs.
Apart from vehicle makers, CSCs have also tied up with many FMCG companies such as PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Nestle, Tata Consumer Products, Shahi Masala, Adhar Foods, and Unibic Foods.
Last April, after the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the CSC allowed VLEs the option to launch a Grameen e-store. While initially launched for easy delivery of essential items in villages, gram panchayats and other rural areas, these e-stores soon expanded their portfolio to start sale of non-essential items such as soft drinks, biscuits, soaps, shampoos, pencils, pens, electric and electronic appliances.
Despite all the tie-ups with domestic and multinational corporations, however, the CSC has stressed that it does not want to give up the independence of the smallest unit in the delivery infrastructure ecosystem, i.e. the VLE. Over the last two months, the MeitY had, in consultation with the CSC, turned down at least two such offers from global retails giants Walmart and Amazon, stating that the autonomous functioning of the VLEs is important.
Walmart India had proposed an offer sometime in February and discussed the possibility of buying all the Grameen e-stores for expanding the reach of its own retail outlets as well as augmenting the capacity of Flipkart’s last-mile delivery. Meanwhile, Amazon had come up with an offer to help the Grameen e-stores “scale up all their stores”. Both the offers have been rejected.
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