Passport mela extended for two more weeks
NEW DELHI: In a major relief for thousands of applicants, the government has decided to hold more passport melas to dispose of the pile of applications and, also, allow the applicants to submit their documents to passport office without an online appointment.
Buoyed by the success of a passport mela over the weekend, the MEA has decided to hold more such exercises to clear the demand rush over the next two weekends, foreign minister S M Krishna said on Wednesday. Over 15,000 passport applications were accepted last weekend.
From July 1, passport applicants would be able to submit their documents at the passport office without an online appointment, he said. The private service provider, TCS, has developed a special software that could accommodate the new methods. Krishna added that a proposal to add 40 more Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) throughout the country would be considered by the Union Cabinet soon. This is in addition to the 77 PSKs already working.
Hammered by the public anger over delays in delivering passports, the MEA has been working overtime to counter the shortcomings as well as the negative perception. The ministry was spurred into action after TOI started a special campaign to highlight the problems of passport applicants.
MEA officials said they would initiate online payments of passport fees at the time of seeking an online appointment. This, they hope, would act as a deterrent against people occupying appointment slots but not turning up for the appointment. Basant Gupta, additional secretary in the MEA, said about 30% of the appointments are no-shows. Plans are afoot to accept payments through credit and debit cards, net banking or bank challans.
The real problem, however, is lack of capacity. MEA’s projections of applications are wildly off the mark. In many areas, where they had projected an application rush of say, 20000, they are confronted with 72,000, rendering the system completely inadequate. However, Krishna said, the capacity for receiving of applications is being increased from current 35,000 to 42,000 per day.
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