People throng the Passport Seva Kendra on Ratu Road in Ranchi last week. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
The passport service in Jharkhand is a curious paradox.
While an online system — launched from June 1 through the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Ranchi — has largely benefited new applicants, their lesser cousins who applied manually between January and May are being subjected to an eternal wait for the licence to travel overseas.
A rough survey over the past week showed that people who applied online, using the services of the PSK at Galaxia Mall on Ratu Road, have received their passports within 30 days or so. But, the others have been doing the rounds of the regional passport office on HEC campus for months.
First, the lucky ones.
“I had filed my application online on August 29. I was called for an interview on Wednesday,” said Anu Singh, who teaches at a private school in the capital.
Once a person logs on to www.passportindia.gov.in, fills up the application form and uploads relevant self-attested documents, an application reference number (ARN) and interview date at the PSK is generated. The date is expected to be within seven working days.
Singh received her call within five working days.
“The online system saved us a lot of time. In the days of the manual system, I would have to stand in queue with no guarantee that I would be able to submit my application within a day,” said Shahrukh Khan, a resident of Madhupur in Deoghar district.
The youth, who studies BCom in a Calcutta college, added that the Passport Seva Kendra had also spared them from the clutches of middlemen. “There are no touts involved when you apply online. The PSK even has two kiosks dedicated to people who are not computer literate. It’s all so easy and smooth.”
Mukesh Kumar, who works with a private company in Ranchi, has already received his passport. “I had applied online in the first week of June. I received my passport on August 20,” he smiled a smile of great relief.
Now, the not-so-lucky ones.
“My wife and a relative had filed their passport applications in mid-January. All papers were in order. Even police verification took place in April, but they are still waiting for their passports. We have no idea what is taking so long. Worse, we have no easy way to find out since the applications were manual,” said Kamal Choudhary, a bank official in the state capital.
According to sources, the PSK, which received 6,000 applications since June 1, has dispatched 2,000 passports till August 31 (see box). “The remaining applications are at various stages of approval. The passports will be dispatched soon,” an official said, adding that on an average, the PSK was receiving 120-150 fresh applications — including 20-25 tatkal ones — and delivering 80-100 new passports every day.
Sanatan, the new in-charge of the regional passport office, promised to clear manual applications as soon as possible. “Application verification is an added task for the police, who are busy in crime control. So, it takes time. Besides, verifying applications from rural areas needs cautious planning because most pockets are rebel-hit. We hope to clear some applications in 20-25 days,” he said.
For online applicants, the passport service is quicker because documents are forwarded to police via mail and vice versa — an exercise that hardly takes a fortnight, Sanatan reasoned.
“On the other hand, the current system takes over a month. However, online police verification will be in place in all districts very soon. They have been provided with necessary software. Jamshedur and Dhanbad are already doing it,” he claimed.
Has the Passport Seva Kendra eased your travel travails?