The online application system for passports have played a major role in making the system hassle-free and transparent
With the rising trend in India’s economy, there has been a major revolution in the travel industry. Whether free individual travellers (FIT’s) or corporate travellers, there has been a noticeable rise in passport issuance in the country. In 2014, around 1.02 crore passports were issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, which is the third highest just behind China and the US. The online application system for passports have played a major role in making the system hassle-free and transparent.
Speaking exclusively to Financial Express Online, Dr Swati V. Kulkarni, regional passport officer (Mumbai), ministry of external affairs, Government of India said, “Rise in India’s global economy and globalisation are some of the key factors which has sparked this rise in international travels. With people are travelling a lot these days, the need for passports have been ever increasing. Today, passport is not a mere document, it has become a necessity. With the introduction of the online system, the entire process has improved very much. There is a transparency in every step and the applicant can track the entire process.”
Currently, there are 81 Passport Seva Kendra’s (PSK) in the country and the numbers are further growing. In Mumbai, there are three PSKs located in Andheri, Malad and Lower Parel. Speaking about the plans to introduce more Kulkarni said, “We currently have three Passport Seva Kendra’s in Mumbai, we are further pushing a proposal to open a PSK in Aurangabad and Solapur and the Government is also considering it seriously. On a priority basis, the Governments aim is to introduce more PSK’s in the North East. Once that is achieved, the Government will again consider our proposals.”
Also, recently a policy was passed regarding the exemption of birth certificate for orphans. Stating about the procedure Kulkarni said, “Orphans and those people who are adopted, sometimes don’t have a birth certificate. We give them an option of either submitting a court order, stating the date of birth and place of birth or they have to submit an application along with a proof from the particular organisation they belong to, along with a sworn affidavit from a first class magistrate which we will accept. Anyways, even before this order came we were following this procedure, but now it has become a policy.”
From January 2015, the RPO has already organised four Passport Mela’s and two Passport Camps. On June 13-14, 2015, the RPO has organised a Passport Camp at Ratnagiri. Speaking about the concept of Passport Mela she said, “My aim is to bring down the normal cycle of appointment period to one day, for normal people. Tatkal anyways is one day. Moreover, we go to those districts where it is very difficult for the people to travel soo far, so the concept behind Passport Mela is to go to the doorstep. But the constraint is that I cannot do more than 200 appointments per day because of the online and other technical issue. Despite this, my thumb rule is to organise one Passport Mela in every two months. I want to cover all the districts under my jurisdiction. Now, the system has become so thorough that the agents are not able to do anything with the appointment cycle, so we can bring down the waiting period to one day that will be the biggest achievement.”