In Arunachal, a long wait for passport

In Arunachal, a long wait for passport

While India has been steadfastly rejecting China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh, New Delhi will take more than 250 days to issue a passport to a citizen from the frontier state.

After applying for a passport, a citizen of Arunachal Pradesh has to wait for 238 days on an average just for the police to verify his or her credentials and address. This, of course excludes the time taken by the Regional Passport Office in Guwahati to process the application and issue the travel document.

The passport seekers from Manipur too have to wait 217 days just for police verification. The process takes more than three months in case of applications from the conflict zone of Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) says that police verification should not ordinarily take more than 21 days, data submitted by it to a parliamentary panel revealed that while the process took 13 to 19 days in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, it took months for the states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.

The MEA noted that the national average of the time taken for police verification was 49 days during April 2012 and March 2013, while the process was completed within the “desired limit of 21 days” for only about 36 per cent of the passport applications.

The government in 2010 launched the Passport Seva Project to streamline and expedite the process of issuing the travel document with the help of Information Technology. The new Passport Seva System of the MEA has provision for all the states and Union Territories to receive calls for police verification reports against all passport applications and upload the reports after verification electronically.

The states like Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir however still receive call for police verification and send reports to the Regional Passport Offices through the old manual mode.

“It is very unfortunate that citizens of Arunachal Pradesh still have to wait for months and sometime even a year or more than that to get their passports. It is just one of the many examples of New Delhi’s uncaring attitude towards the state and its people,” Vijay Taram, a lawyer and a social activist, told Deccan Herald from Itanagar on Saturday.

“It not only goes against the spirit of New Delhi’s assertion of sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, but also hurts the patriotic sentiments of the people of the state,” he added.

The MEA told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs that it paid the state governments at the rate of Rs 100 per passport application for police verifications.

But, it added, some of the state governments had not invested in creating infrastructure required by police for speedier verification of the address and credentials of the passport seekers.

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