Online payment for passport from March

 As the new on-line passport issuance scheme under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) e-governance initiative gains ground, the government plans to introduce an on-line payment facility in a phased manner from March to make the system effective and people-friendly.

The MEA’s Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) project, rolled out from Tamil Nadu after a successful pilot project in Karnataka through PPP mode with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has “transformed” the issuance system with a network of 77 PSKs, including eight in Tamil Nadu, said Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi.

Higher volumes, greater transparency, drastic reduction in queues, capturing of applicants biometric data that helps to eliminate fake and multiple passports, significant reduction in time in issuance and police verification has come down to an average of 29 days in the Chennai region for non-tatkal applicants, he said.

Pardeshi acknowledged there were shortcomings in the new system. For instance, to eliminate agents feeding fictitious data on-line to block an appointment, the Centre planned to introduce a pre-payment system for applicants through debit/credit cards so that only those who make the payment will get appointments.

TCS is working on the matter and is expected to be finalised by February, Pardeshi, Joint Secretary in the MEA, said.

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