SENIOR citizens, differently abled applicants and minors (below five years of age) seeking passport will now have to take a prior online appointment like others as the External Affairs Ministry has done away with the “walk-in” facility that was afforded to these groups.
Earlier, applicants belonging to these groups could just obtain a registration number by filling the online form and then visit the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) as per their convenience and drop the application. All other kinds of applicant have to obtain an appointment, a day and time, and they can only visit the PSK on the said time to submit the application.
Passport officials said that the decision has been taken considering the chaos the “walk-in” facility was causing at the PSKs. The move, they said, will also do away with opaquness in allotment of the tokens. “Till now applicants coming under these categories had to submit their applications online and obtain an registration number and then visit the nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) during prescribed hours. No prior appointment was required,” said Anil Kumar Singh, Regional Passport Officer, Pune
“Recently, senior citizens and children below five years of age, who were earlier submitting their passport applications in ‘walk-in’ mode were adjusted in the morning slot which led to overcrowding of applicants under this category. It made the process grossly inconvenient and time-consuming due to uncontrolled influx of senior citizens and minors. The submission of documents through online appointment will ensure that an application is processed as per appointed time in a hassle-free manner,” said the officer. The officials said that the doing away with “walk-ins” will help the misuse of tokens.
“This has been done to make the issuance of tokens for passport at PSKs, Passport Seva Laghu Kendras (PSLKs) and Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) transparent and to streamline the submission of documents for a passport. From now, senior citizen and children below five years of age will also be eligible for issue of tokens at the passport office based on their appointment taken through online system of the Passport Seva Project,” said Singh.
From time to time, the passport authorities had also granted the “walk-in” facility to other groups to promote passport issuance in specific groups. For example, in November 2016, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) has carried out campaigns in universities and several colleges in the city, like Fergusson College, CoEP, SPPU, Garware College, S P College, BMCC, Poona College and Modern College allotting them special time slots for walk-in processing of their passport applications, without prior appointment, at the passport seva kendra. The facility was also extended to the faculty and employees of the educational institutions.
Anil Bhave, who has recently obtained a passport by using the “walk-in” facility, said that instead of discontinuing the practice, the passport department should have tried to address the practical issues that were being caused. “It really helped people like me. It’s true that there was overcrowding and chaos. But the reasons behind the chaos should have been addressed rather than stopping the ‘walk-in’ facility,” said Bhave.