To assist citizens in applying for passports online,the Ministry of External Affairs will soon start Citizen Service Centres across the country in the coming months,chief passport officer with government of India Muktesh Pardeshi announced here on Saturday. The number of appointments at the Pune Passport Seva Kendra will also be increased from 775 to 1,100,he said.
Pardeshi was talking to the media after a meeting with staff from regional passport offices in Maharashtra and with Pune police officers about complaints of delays in the police verification. He said,There has been a significant increase in volume of passport applications in Maharashtra. We have customised the systems and processes accordingly to assist people in filing online application.
He added,We will start these centres at five places in India on pilot basis. If we get a positive feedback we will open these centres across India by May end. However,he refused to give names of places where the centres will be set up.
He said,At present,Punes Passport Seva Kendra caters to 775 applications. We have made arrangements to take this number to 1,100. We will be making arrangements for the resources needed. He added,Pune has a large population of students and IT professionals. If there are backlogs of applications remain,we will arrange passport melas on Saturdays.
When asked about the passport agents allegedly putting up their boards on the passport office premises,Pardeshi said,If there are such complaint,our officers will look into them. I will ask the Pune passport officer to rotate employees processing the application to avoid favouritism.
It was observed that about 30 per cent of the people who apply for passports,do not turn up on the date of appointment. To avoid that the applicants will now be asked to pay the fees before the appointment. The payment will be valid for one year and an applicant will be able to alter the date of appointment twice after that.
Stating that police verification is most important,Pardeshi said the process take 70 days in Maharashtra as compared to 21 days as stipulated.
He said,We had a meeting with senior police officers. They have assured us that they will take steps to minimise this time.