Andher Nagari: Delhi Passport office – Arrogance of Babudom

    The head Babu, viz the Chief Passport Officer blames the applicants for the the problems they face in getting passports in Delhi.

According to him too many persons are applying for passport ! It is their fault if they have problems!

The passport office need not equip itself to handle the number of citizens. There is no explanation as to why those seeking appointments should go online at 6 PM every day? Why cannot people get appointment any time during the day?

To top it the arrogance of the official to say that one can go to the Passport office to get an appointment, “they are not turned away’.

Travel 30 odd km with your parents and kids, to reach  at 8 am and stand in the que for an appointment till evening? Temperature hovering around 44 C ?

This is SEVA by passport officials in Delhi.

A frustrated Citizen

Foreign dreams hit a wall at passport office

Online Appointment Process, Document Demands Challenge Applicants

Manimugdha S Sharma TNN

        New Delhi: At 6 o’clock every evening, thousands of people in the city hunch up before their computers in a ritual reminiscent of the 1980s’ M a h a b h a r a t frenzy. It’s the first Act in their epic struggle to get a passport, urgently. If they fail to book an online appointment within a couple of minutes, they lose 24 hours and have to try again a day later.

        In an investigation prompted by thousands of reader complaints, TOI spent three weeks experiencing the hurdles and frustration that common citizens encounter trying to get a passport. We found people who had been harassed to the point where they gave up the thought of getting this most important proof of citizenship. Many others got the document, but days after the occasion for which they had sought it. In one case, a man couldn’t get his passport re-issued even after five months, and had to miss a prestigious conference in the US. An 80-year-old woman couldn’t be at her sister’s side in the US when the latter was undergoing cancer treatment.

       Booking an online appointment is the first step towards getting a passport, and also the most difficult. Kamla Nagar resident Divya spent 23 days clicking for her chance. Starting May 7, she kept trying till luck smiled on her on May 30. But her joy was short-lived, as the Shalimar Place passport sewa kendra (PSK) rejected her application. Reason: the voter ID card she submitted as proof of address was issued in 2012, and does not confirm the requirement of ‘twoyear continuous stay’ at her address. “Now, I have to apply for the appointment again. And I don’t know when I will get one,” she said.

       While agreeing that booking an online appointment is difficult, chief passport officer and joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi, argued that the “truth is not what is being projected”. He blamed the rush of applications instead. “The issue is not with the (time) window, but with the number of applicants. The PSK at ITO can handle up to 900 applications per day; others at Shalimar Place, RK Puram and Gurgaon can process 300-400 applications each. But for roughly 2,000 appointment slots, thousands apply. The slots get filled up within minutes. We have flashed on our portal that those who can’t book online can walk in with their application receipt numbers. And we have been accommodating such people,” he said.

      Jaipur-based student Rahul had a tough time at the ITO PSK while trying to get a passport under the Tatkal scheme. “I tried to get an appointment for a month and a half. Then, I paid a travel agent to do it for me. I contacted him on a Saturday and he got me an appointment on Monday,” said Rahul, adding that he wasn’t sure when he would get his passport, as many others got theirs after two weeks or more under the same scheme, against the promised time of seven days.

     Pardeshi said delays mostly happen simply because the postal department fails to deliver on time, or, because the applications submitted are not complete, or the verification documents don’t have the appropriate credentials of the attesting officer.

     Many readers complained about having to wait for more than two weeks to get a passport under the Tatkal scheme (where service has to be provided within seven working days on payment of Rs 2,500) and for over three months under the normal process (which promises a passport within 45 days).

       More annoying is the lack of clarity about the documents needed. The official website, w w w. p a s s p o r t i n – d i a . g o v. i n , lists the particulars for all categories but the PSKs claim they have their own “rules” and usually ask for documents not mentioned on the website.

        For instance, the ITO PSK asked Sabzi Mandi resident Ajay Gaur to produce an affidavit for his wife, as she was born in Jammu. The website doesn’t mention the requirement of affidavits in cases where applicants can submit residence proof for two years. Even the Election Commission asks for address proof of six months’ stay at a particular address for issuing a voter ID card.

       Pardeshi blamed the current holiday season rush for the increase in delays, claiming applications had increased by 20-25%. “With the opening of the new PSK at Bhikaji Cama Place on June 15, the burden on the other PSKs will lessen.”

          However, columnist Ashok Malik was not convinced by this logic. He had a harrowing time at the ITO PSK when seeking renewal of his five-year-old son’s passport. The child almost fainted after waiting for several hours without enough air and water. “Four PSKs are not the solution. This model can work in smaller cities where fewer people apply. In Delhi, you need at least 10-15 PSKs,” he said.
W i t h i n p u t s f r o m S u m e e t K e s w a n i )
manimugdha.sharma@timesgroup.com

FRUSTRATING WAIT: Applicants outside the PSK at Herald House, ITO

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