Bangalore, May 28 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said on Friday that the inauguration of passport seva centres marks the culmination of a long and arduous process of changing a 50-year old system in line with today's needs.
Addressing the gathering after inaugurating passport seva centres at Bangalore, Mangalore and Hubli, Krishna said: "Inauguration marks a red letter day in the quest of my Ministry to bring about quantum improvement in the quality of Passport services to our citizens."
"This also marks the culmination of a long and arduous process of changing a 50-year old system in line with today's needs," he added.
Krishna said the change involved a study of the existing processes, study of the procedures being followed in other countries, adapting these best practices to India.
"There were challenges and difficulties which needed to be surmounted before the system could be opened to the public," Krishna said.
In his address, Krishna said the era of globalisation has brought rapid change in the growth rate and integrated India more closely with changing world.
"The process of economic liberalization and reforms envisioned by Shri Rajiv Gandhiji and pursued with dedication and redoubled vigour by the central government since the early 1990s, brought about high growth rates and also integrated our country more closely into the rapidly globalising world," he said.
"The resultant opportunities and the growing proportion of the youth in our county pushed the demand for passports to unprecedented levels and between 1958 and 2006, the number of passport applicants increased 133 times and between 2006 and 2010, the number of passport applicants almost doubled," Krishna added.
The project involves setting up of seventy seven state of the art Passport Seva Kendras across the country in the first phase, a 24x 7 call centre operating in 18 languages, capturing biometrics of all applicants, more counters and increased public dealing hours.
The project also provides connectivity of the system to the district police headquarters to ensure faster police verification, status updates to the citizens through SMS and email, and uniform procedures and transparent and time bound completion of all processes.
"Live trials have revealed that these measures have indeed led to a quantum improvement in the speed of processing of passport applications," Krishna said.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has enhanced the amount payable to the State Government from Rs 100/- to Rs 150/- per verification.
"I would like to request the State Government, through the good offices of the Hon'ble Chief Minister and the senior police officials present, to extend their fullest cooperation to the Passport Office to get all police verification done expeditiously for the benefit of the residents of Karnataka State," Krishna said.
In his address Krishna also appreciated the work of Tata Consultancy Serivices.
Krishna also said a similar centre would be launched at Chandigarh in June.
After the pilot locations start working and are certified by an independent authority, the project will be rolled out across the country. (ANI)