Getting a passport could soon be hassle free

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New Delhi, Mar.7 (ANI):If long queues outside shoddy passport offices gives you the jitters and, the thought of brokers and touts stops you from getting your passport by right, here is some good news for passport seekers.

Getting a passport will soon be hastle free with the revolutionisation of the current process, which at best, can be described as arduous.

It is learnt that External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who hails from IT city Bangalore and, is very tech savvy, is walking that extra mile to facilitate the implementation of the landmark Passport Sewa E- Governance initiative.

Sevety-seven hi-tech state-of-the-art IT-enabled Passport Sewa offices are likely to come up across the country under the new initiative.

Krishna recently inspected two such centers in Bangalore.

The presence of cutting-edge technology such as a centralised IT system, which includes a data centre and a disaster recovery centre to which, all proposed centers will be connected, biometric verification, availability of online services for fixing appointments, three national call centers and a grievance redressel system, status of application via SMS and outsourcing of front-end activities, acquiring a passport will be easier and simpler.

If that"""s not all, the 24x7 national call centre in 17 languages will also be a part of the new project.

The Passport Sewa project is a perfect example of public-private partnership, involving the Ministry of External Affairs and Tata Consultancy Services.

Keeping in view security and sensitivity, the MEA has not surrendered sovereign functions to the TCS and has only outsourced front-end activities.

If fully implemented, then a passport can be got in three days following police verification. Tatkal applicants could get the passport the same day. Currently, it takes around 30 to 45 days for non-Tatkal passports and a minimum of seven days for getting a Tatkal-routed passport.

Under the proposed system, the number of public dealing counters will also increase from the current figure of 345 to 1250. Public dealing hours will also increase from four to seven hours.

According to sources, new centres could come up at Gurgaon, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Hubli, Dharwad, Mangalore, Baroda, Rajkot, Kottayam, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Ambala, Varanasi, Kanpur, Jodhpur and Sikar etc.

Although the project looks impressive, it also has its share of problems and challenges.

The IT-enabled project could leave many passport officials out of work. Already, unions in passport offices have opposed the proposal. The other big challenge will be to train underskilled MEA staff on cutting-edge technology. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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