Within a year, the passport issuance process at the Pune passport office has seen a complete turnaround. From a complex process which evoked anxiety among passport aspirants, the process has now become much quicker and almost seamless. This was recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs, which accorded the Special Recognition Award to the Pune Regional Passport Office earlier this week.
Concerted efforts, as officials put it, have manifested in drastic shortening of waiting period for an appointment of a passport applicant.
In April 2014, the appointment availability cycle was 52 days. Meaning, if an applicant tries to book an appointment at the passport office today, he would get a date 52 days later. This cycle has now come down to 21 days. For an appointment seeker at the Aundh Passport Camp, it’s just 13 days.
“Given the increasing demand for passports in Pune and neighbouring districts, the passport application cycle should actually have become longer. However, efforts taken by us at multiple levels has made it shorter. We undertook frequent passport camps – about 28 to 30 so far – each having 1100 to 1400 slots. This didn’t allow the cycle to become longer. On the other hand, when we started another camp at Passport Office at Senapati Bapat Road and ongoing Maha Camp at Aundh, the cycle reduced sharply. We are hoping it will shorten further,” said Atul Gotsurve, the Regional Passport Officer.
Several people who recently obtained a passport from the Pune office – including a few who employed a middleman – told Newsline that they felt the process was easy, transparent and – most importantly – quick.
Talking about his experience of getting his passport re-issued, Saibal Sen, a city-based businessman, said, “The procedure was super fast. I am surprised at the efficiency and speed and system. This is the best government office I have visited in India. I had my interview on June 15 and received my passport by post at my residence on June 17, in barely 48 hours. Can you believe it?”
Mrunalini Patil, 23, an engineer, needed a passport urgently as she needed to submit passport details while joining her first job. She decided to hire a ‘passport agent’ as she didn’t want to ‘take a chance’.
“A friend advised me to hire a tout as he would resolve documentary issues and quicken the process. I took the advice. I got the passport within 12 days. However, I regret hiring a tout because he did nothing. There was no stage in the process where he could have intervened.
The process is monitored electronically and if you have the required documents, you get the passport without any trouble,” said Patil.
The passport office on Senapati Bapat Road and Passport Seva Kendra at Mundhwa have undergone a complete transformation with installation of state-of-the art facilities including flat screen television sets, cushioned chairs, a library and bottled water dispensers.
Citizens, however, pointed out some areas which had scope for improvement, such as ‘better etiquettes’ of security personnel at the entrance, more seats at the waiting area and deployment of more persons at the exit counter.
“I was through with all the counters within 30 minutes but the exit counter took me another 30 minutes because there was a queue. Only one counter was manned. The behaviour of the security personnel could have been better,” said Sen.
Regional office wins MEA award
Regional Passport Office, Pune, received a Special Recognition Award for achieving high standards of passport service delivery in 2014-15. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (in picture) handed over the award, comprising a certificate and cash prize of Rs 10,000.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh was present at the event held earlier this week. “The staffers at the Pune Passport Office deserved credit for the turnabout and recognition it has attracted.
They have sacrificed over 30 Saturdays to conduct passport melas and passport camps,” said Atul Gotsurve, the Regional Passport Officer.