TCS may get the boot for passport glitches

Last Updated : 28 June 2010, 16:15 IST

Follow Us :


Billed as the MEA’s flagship project, the services at the Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) have begun to go awry slightly over a month after the Foreign Office-TCS project was launched. Consequently, far from stabilising, the project has floundered, leading to complete chaos for citizens seeking passports.

MEA sources in South Block told Deccan Herald that problems, from obtaining tokens at the PSKs to slow servers which crash frequently, as well as waiting out an agonisingly granting process, continue to bedevil the project which kicked off on May 21 as a public-private partnership (PPP).

Deccan Herald had earlier reported on October 1 last year that a 20-member team from the Standard Testing and Quality Control Directorate of the Department of Information and Technology had detected hundreds of “bugs” in the software, developed and employed by TCS, that caused innumerable issues, including problems in data migration. This caused a delay in the launch of the project by a year.

But the problems faced after May 21 by a considerable number of applicants during the supposedly streamlined process have infuriated the MEA mandarins who have issued TCS with a deadline to put some order back in the project, failing which they are considering cancelling the contract given to the software firm.South Block sources, however, said both the MEA and TCS must share the blame for the sorry state of affairs.

Having done away with other agencies and organisations that accepted passport applications in Bangalore, there was a too much burden at the PSKs where an increased number of applications turned up to apply for the travel document.

“Coupled with a glut of applicants, the troubled software has not been able to handle the pressure. In the initial weeks, the TCS servers crashed several times,” an MEA source disclosed. After the launch, the system has broken down so frequently that applications who registered online had a trying time filling in the information. Many such applicants have now returned to the PSKs for manual submission of the forms and supporting documents.

On an average, under the earlier system, the Passport Office at Koramangala could easily process 300 applications a day. That figure has now come down to 160. The pressure and the problems encountered by the PSKs led an MEA source to bemoan that “We deserve this. They (TCS) have let everyone down, including themselves.”

As of today, according to MEA sources, TCS has been fined Rs 48 lakh for the delays and problems in implementation of the project. Even now, integrating the TCS software with the old working system, called PISON, of the Passport Office is yet to be completed.
TCS, whose ideas of resolving problems are at variance with the MEA, finds many reasons to attribute the problems to. One being, the greater number of walk-ins (people without online appointments) is one of the major factors. But TCS employees, who indicated they were in favour of a third PSK in the City, do not account for the fact that not all citizens are expected to suddenly turn Internet savvy and insisit on online registration.

At the PSKs, harrowed applicants will manage to finish the process in an entire day, if they are lucky, or else have to return at least a couple of times more to get all work on their applications done.

“If the number of people queuing up was too much to handle, why did they curtail submissions at other centres like Bangalore One, even before their systems stabilised,” asked an exasperated MEA official.

Published 27 June 2010, 19:12 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us