Passport facilitation centres

The regional passport office (RPO) here is contemplating to start ‘passport facilitation centres’ at the speed-post centres in the city besides 53 other locations in the state. The proposed centres would guide applicants to fill up their forms online.

“We have sent a proposal to the ministry of external affairs seeking introduction of facilitation centres at the speed post centres. It will help non-computer savvy applicants about the procedures of filing passport applications online. Applicants will have to pay a nominal fee to avail the service,” a senior officer at the RPO said.

The proposed facilitation centres are aimed at preventing the illegal activities of brokers, who take innocent applicants for a ride. Until recently, the speed post centres were authorized to accept passport applications from the people. But the practice has been discontinued after the launch of Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) at the RPO here in May last year. “PSK collects biometric fingerprints of applicants, who will have to turn up at the PSK for verification. But the facility was not available at speed post centres. So, the speed post centres were asked not to accept applications and requisite documents from applicants,” he said.

Considering the inconvenience caused to applicants because of scrapping of the service at speed post centres, the RPO is planning to open two more PSKs at Sambalpur and Berhampur.

The RPO, which receives around 500 applications a day, was getting about 450 passport applications from all the 54 speed post centers every month.

Like speed post centres, the RPO recently stopped collecting applications from the district passport cells (DPC) in 30 districts because of their poor performance. A DPC was basically a system of de-centralizing the submission, checking and processing of passport applications by district administration employees so that the RPO does not feel much pressure of handling a horde of applications daily. The DPCs were headed by additional district magistrates (ADMs), who acted as nodal officers. Though the DPCs were established more than six years ago, not many visited those units because of ignorance. The RPO was receiving only 70 or 75 passport applications from all the 30 DPCs every month.

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