ALTHOUGH there are several restrictions on international travel, demand for passports has risen with the Regional Passport Office, Pune reporting that 70-80 per cent of its daily quota for fresh applications gets sold out every day.
The Pune Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) releases 1,200 normal applications and 200 tatkal applications every day and a majority of them are being filled out, RPO officials have said.
Apart from this, 600 other applications that are available at 16 different POPSKs (PSKs set up at post offices) in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Kolhapur, Solapur, Osmanabad, Parbhani, Pandharpur and other towns, are also getting good response.
“Our operations had been hampered in the first few months of the lockdown. But since normalcy is slowly returning, demand for passports has grown and footfall at the Pune PSK is increasing. Considering this, we have restored the usual quota of 1,200 normal slots and 400 tatkal slots. We are taking all precautions to ensure that every visitor to the PSK is safe,” said Anant Takwale, Regional Passport Officer, Pune.
In March, following the announcement of nationwide lockdown, all the passport offices in the country had halted appointments. In May, passport appointments were resumed in some states which were classified as ‘green zones’. As Maharashtra was classified as a ‘red zone’, passport offices were shut and centres began functioning only in the second week of June after permission was given by the state government.
Initially, at each passport centre, a lot of only two hundred appointments was released as the focus was on maintaining physical distancing norms. However, in phases, the number of appointments rose to 700 in July.
“With growing demand, we finally increased the quota to our pre-pandemic daily of 1,200. All the POPSKs were made operational last week to meet the growing demand,” said Takwale.
Although Pune does not enjoy direct connectivity with many international destinations – there’s only one international flight from Pune Airport, which connects the city with Dubai – due to its large student population as well as resident IT professionals, the city has seen phenomenal growth in passport demand.
In August 2017, the jurisdiction of Pune RPO was increased by attaching six additional districts from Marathwada, thereby further increasing footfall at Pune RPO.
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