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India ranks 3rd globally in passport issuance

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Akshay KumarMumbai

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. 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 have increased international travel. With the introduction of the online system, the entire process has become much improved. There is a transparency in every step and the applicant can track the entire process.”

Currently, there are 81 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) in the country and the numbers are growing. In Mumbai, there are three PSKs located in Andheri, Malad and Lower Parel. Kulkarni said, “We are pushing a proposal to open PSKs in Aurangabad and Solapur and the government is also considering it seriously. On a priority basis, the government’s aim is to introduce more PSKs in the North East, following which our proposals will be considered.”

Recently a policy was passed regarding the exemption of birth certificates for orphans. Kulkarni explained, “Orphans and those people who are adopted sometimes do not 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. Even before this order came we were following this procedure, but now it has become a policy.”

Since January 2015, the RPO has organised four Passport Melas and two Passport Camps. Kulkarni said, “Through the Passport Melas we go to the doorstep of the people. But the constraint is that we cannot do more than 200 appointments per day because of technical issues. 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.”

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