Krishna calls for fast-tracking passport deliveryNovember 29th, 2011 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) Amid unending complaints about delays in issuing passports, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday urged officers develop a “good working relationship” with police so as to issue passports promptly to citizens.
“I attach very high importance to prompt, efficient and courteous manner of delivery of passport services. Passport officers are the public face of the ministry of external affairs,” Krishna told a conference of passport officers from all over the country.
Alluding to a large number of complaints about alleged harassment of people visiting passport offices by officials or agents, discourteous behaviour and difficulties in accessing information or officials, the minister said that “these problems should be addressed promptly”.
Taking note of growing pendency in passport delivery services that arise largely due to pending police verifications, Krishna exhorted the officers to coordinate and have a “good working relationship” with police.
“I would also like that this pendency be eliminated, at least in those cases where police verifications have been received, by the end of the year,” Krishna said.
Referring to the doubling of passport applications since 2000, Krishna told officers that their workload would grow in the coming years as the number of Indians travelling abroad was increasing by the day.
A record number of over 5.3 million passports were issued in 2010-11, in addition to rendering more than 600,000 passport-related services.
“The demand on the passport offices would continue to grow in the months and years to come. This offers not only new opportunities but also enormous challenges,” he said.
Stressing greater accountability, Krishna called for a public grievance redressal mechanisms that have been put in place.
“Priority should be accorded to increase accountability within the system so that grievances/complaints are indeed attended to.”
He suggested designating an ‘Open Day’ for addressing the complaints received from the public.
Krishna, in particular, emphasised faster and easier issuance of passports to Haj pilgrims.
“Next year as well, you should take measures for opening separate counters for the Haj pilgrims; holding special Passport Adalats; and liaisoning with police authorities to obtain police reports on priority basis.”
Lauding the Passport Seva Project, an e-governance initiative, a success, he said 30 out of 77 such Kendras planned have become operational and hoped that the remaining would be functional by March next year.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, too, stressed on fast-tracking of passport issuance and stressed on emerging challenges.
“The world is full of troubled spots. We may have problems in the future. So we need to build an interface to meet such needs. Passport officers should be equipped to handle such situations,” he said.
Mathai also said that he has written to the finance ministry about complaints relating to poor quality of paper used in passports and assured that an action plan has been put in place to sort out the issue.
Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi informed that India Security Press, which prints the documents, has agreed to send a delegation, if need be, to Canada and other countries to study the material used by them and the additional security features.
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