Get a Passport in 72 Hours!

by Muntazir Abbas    Oct 14, 2008

Gone are the days when people had to wait endlessly in the queue for passport application. With a new strategic initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of External Affairs and supported by the Department of Information Technology, you can have a passport in three days post instant police verification. The system will help in procuring Tatkal passport within a day and a normal passport delivery will take three days.

With the growing demand and phenomenal increase in passport application, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rightly felt it was time to give the common man some respite and make things easier for him. The department of passport under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will now offer Internet application, real time file tracking, grievance redressal, and instant enquiry, as well as biometric passports.

This ambitious program is a giant step forward in the endeavor to make passport offices paperless. Passport Officer R. Swaminathan says that the department is concerned about the sensitive information and security aspects and the system software and datacenter remain in government premises, while Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) would provide service delivery platform.

“As per international standards and agencies, biometric passports are recommended and we are all poised to offer these by 2010,” says Swaminathan. The system provides citizen-friendly online interface that include instant application and digital picture capturing. The applicants will be provided with a file number that can be tracked.

Citizens will also have an option to the Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR)-enabled form and the relevant documents will be scanned and submitted at Passport Facilitation Centres (PFCs). This project will be implemented on - Buy Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) framework.

In addition, the service include SMS alert as soon as the passport reaches the postal office for dispatch. “Machine-printed passports will be issued and the finger prints will be collected”, says he. Swaminathan added that customer service will be provided through three national call centers.

“Department of Information Technology is engaged with us from the beginning in providing strategic control and data service,” remarks Swaminathan. On asking about the cost-impact on applicants, he declined to comment.

The pilot Passport Sewa Kendra (PSK) at Bangalore and Chandigarh are scheduled to be operational by March, 2009. This project is said to be valued at more than Rs.1, 000 crore. However, the government employees will continue to perform sovereign and sensitive functions that include passport printing, dispatch, monitoring and other vital issues. The sources confirmed that the current passport offices will become Passport Back Offices (PBOs).

Related links:
Passport Seva Project Gets off Ground