Online appointments soon at passport office

Online appointments soon at passport office
The Regional Passport Office (RPO) at Koramangala in Bengaluru will soon get an online appointment facility to cater to the needs of passport applicants across the state.

The RPO has written to the Ministry of External Affairs to provide online facility. “The head office is positively considering our request and the RPO will soon get online appointment facility which will help people from across the State,” Regional Passport Officer PS Karthigeyan told Deccan Herald.  The RPO handles only complicated cases of passport applications which relates to those facing criminal charges, issues related to fake documents among others while the Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) provide online processing facilities for passport  applicants in normal cases.

There are four PSKs in the state, two in Bengaluru on Lalbagh Road and Outer Ring Road in Marathahalli and Hubballi and Mangaluru. There is a Passport Application Processing Centre (PAPC) in Kalaburagi.

The PSKs and PAPC handle front operations such as receiving applications, digitising files, taking biometrics and photos. They refer complicated cases to the RPO for issuing passports. An estimated 7% of the applicants are referred to the RPO by PSKs and PAPC.

“These are most complicated cases and each case consumes more than six times the normal time taken for issuing a passport at a PSK. We need to study court orders, some times even refer the matter to the head quarters, interpret the content properly and refer them to other authorities. These are basically cases related to fake documents and criminal antecedents. Hence, a majority of people don’t know the functioning of the RPO,” Karthigeyan explained.

The PSKs have online appointment facility and work five days a week while the RPO follows token system and works four days a week, with one day dedicated for clearance of pendency.  Under the proposed online system, the PSKs and PAPC will grant online appointments for applicants for appearance at the RPO or applicants themselves can chose an appointment according to their convenience, he said.

Each PSK handles 18,000 appointments a week and the RPO about 1,200. “We get about 300 applicants from across the state daily and the tokens are given between 9.30 am and 12 noon. People come much ahead of their appointment and wait in long queues and face hardship. The online appointment facility will reduce such inconvenience,” Karthigeyan said.

Even the staff at the RPO will be unaware of the workload for the day till noon. Lack of online system has affected their routine, he added.

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