31 passport centres yet to keep up with demand

31 passport centres yet to keep up with demand

As many as 31 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) across the country still keep citizens waiting for 10 to 58 days just to schedule appointments after they apply for the much-needed travel documents.

The two Passport Seva Kendras in Bangalore generally grant appointments to online applicants after 20 days.

Applicants seeking appointments in eight PSKs in Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have to wait for more than 40 days.

A parliamentary panel, which examined the Passport Seva Project, has now concluded that the applicants would continue to experience inordinate delays in scheduling appointments, unless and until the handling capacity of the PSKs were enhanced.

With the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) making it mandatory for all passport seekers to pay fees in advance, unauthorised agents, who earlier blocked a large number of appointment slots at the PSKs, now find it difficult to continue with their illegal facilitation services.

But a parliamentary panel noted that the problem of delays in scheduling appointments still persists in many of the total 77 PSKs across the country, particularly the ones in Bangalore, Patna, Pune, Bareilly, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam.

The MEA clarified that the delays experienced by the applicants in scheduling appointments at some of the PSKs had nothing to do with the software and had not been caused by any inadequacy of the web portal of the Passport Seva Project.

It told the Parliamentary Standing Committee of External Affairs that the PSP system could generate even a million appointments, but the number of slots were regulated and released in accordance with the handling capacity of the particular PSK.

This prompted the panel to “strongly recommend” that the MEA and the service provider Tata Consultancy Services should seriously examine the issue and enhance handling capacity of each PSK and find a solution to “ensure generation of additional slots”.

It also recommended that the MEA should also consider opening new PSKs with sufficient manpower to cater to the growing demand for passports.
The panel noted that while only 8.51 lakh passports had been issued in 1979-80, demand for the travel documents had gone up exponentially over the past three decades.

The PSKs had received 67.27 lakh applications for issue or reissue of passports between January-December 2013 and issued 65.49 lakh passport and related documents during the same period.

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