Passport Seva Kendras inaugurated
The Passport Seva Project of the Ministry for External Affairs to ensure speed and efficient issue of passports, was formally inaugurated here on Friday by Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna, with the opening of four Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) in Karnataka.
The minister said the new system marked a quantum improvement in services and marked a red letter day for the Ministry, as it was the culmination of a long and arduous journey of changing a 50-year-old system in line with today’s needs.
Citing the unprecedented increase in the number of applications for passports in the last few years, Krishna said it had led to over-burdening of the existing system and delay in response.
He said the Seva project will dramatically improve productivity and will bring about modern technology with the addition of biometrics, 24-hour call centres, more counters at PSKs, faster police verification and status updates via sms and e-mail.
Krishna informed that the amount paid to the police for each verification had been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 150.
Four centres in State
Four centres have been opened in the State, two in Bangalore (one on Lalbagh Road and another on Marathahalli Outer Ring Road) and one each in Hubli and Mangalore. Another PSK is scheduled to be opened in Gulbarga soon. Nation-wide, 77 PSKs will be opened in a phased manner and the next one will be inaugurated in Chandigarh in a month’s time.
The Seva project has been implemented with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as the private partner in a BOT (Build Operate Transfer) model. The application was supposed to be launched last year, but enduring problems with the software prepared by TCS delayed it by a year’s time. After missing three to four deadlines for the launch of the software, TCS is supposed to have been fined Rs 32 lakh for the delay.
The new system supposedly ensures faster delivery of passports, with the passports supposed to be despatched three days after receiving the police verification report. The form has been simplified and options are available for online filing of applications. Applicants will have to spend a shorter time at the office, if they take an appointment online and fill the applications, so it will not be repeated at the centre.
Tatkal processing of passports, with police verification will now take three days, as opposed to seven to 14 days it used to take earlier. Biometrics and photographs will be captured at the centre itself and the mode of payment at present is cash. Credit and Debit card transactions will be introduced shortly. There is no change in the amount charged for processing a passport.
While the front end staff will belong to TCS, the sovereign functions of passport issuance process will be handled by the Passport office staff. More information can be found at http://passportindia.gov.in