Shillong, Nov 14: India is the third largest passport issuing country in the world, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Friday.
"India accounts for 14 percent of passport issuance and it is the third largest issuing country after China and the United States," joint secretary (PSP and CPO) Muktesh K. Pardeshi said quoting Sushma Swaraj's speech.
Pardeshi read Swaraj's written speech after she cancelled her visit to Shillong along with Minister of State for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs General V.K. Singh (retd.) to inaugurate the Shillong Passport Seva Kendra, as the Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force carrying them failed to land at the helipad this morning due to bad weather.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who inaugurated the Shillong Passport Seva Kendra, said the passport office will greatly benefit the people of the state as they will not have to go to Guwahati to avail the travelling document.
"Considering that there are about 5.7 crore Indian passport holders, attaining the one crore mark in passport issuance during 2014 is of great significance from the point of view of public services delivered by the government," Swaraj said.
Stating that the role of the Common Services Centres (CSC) in the country has assumed great significance, Swaraj said the CSC scheme immensely contributes to realizing the goal of a "Digital India".
She also informed of the government's plan to set up 16 more Passport Seva Kendras with special emphasis on the northeast and introduction of new generation e-passports in 2015-16 and procurement of high capacity passport printers.
She said there are also plans to improve passports services including improving the police verification system, integration of Indian missions and posts abroad with Passport Seva, integration with other e-governance initiatives such as Aadhaar, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System, immigration, visa and foreigners registration.
Re-affirming the central government's commitment to fulfilling the hopes, aspirations and dreams of the people in the northeast, Swaraj said the work on setting up Passport Seva Kendras in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Sikkim is in progress and hoped that these Kendras would be operationalised by 2015.
"Serving the people and providing a clean and efficient system focused on delivery is our foremost priority. Issuance of passports is one of the major and visible statutory public services rendered by the government," she said.