Mukesh Kumar Pardeshi with an applicant at the Passport Seva Kendra on Ratu Road on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
Call it one step up from passport e-seva.
A sprawling complex hosting an integrated Passport Bhavan — along with guest lounges, a residential colony and recreational opportunities for employees — is in the pipeline in Ranchi.
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has approved a primary proposal, although a detailed project report is yet to be drawn up. Officials are, currently, scouting for land in the capital for the purpose and the word is that the Centre has requested Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HEC) to provide around three acres.
“Land crunch is a big issue here. It took us a decade to relocate from Dhurwa to Ratu Road. The good news is that HEC has said it would try to accommodate our request. The project will gather pace once land is found,” a senior official said, requesting anonymity.
Passport office sources said that the plan had been recently approved and search was also on at the central level for a consultant to prepare the DPR. While three acres will be needed for the Passport Bhavan complex, the estimated cost of the project has not been ascertained yet.
Mukesh Kumar Pardeshi, the joint secretary of the MEA’s Passport Seva Project and also its chief passport officer, confirmed the land hunt.
“HEC and MEA share a long-standing relationship. After the creation of Jharkhand, the Regional Passport Office was shifted to Ranchi in 2002. It was housed on the company’s property in Dhurwa. The HEC extended its help when the state had failed to provide us any permanent solution. We have once again turned to the PSU for land in a centrally located area of Ranchi so that we can go ahead with the plan,” he said.
Pardeshi was in town on Monday to formally inaugurate the new Regional Passport Office on Ratu Road along with its Passport Seva Kendra, which kicked off more than a month ago. The Ratu Road property has been taken on rent.
The MEA official expressed satisfaction over the facilities. Away from the cramped single-storied building in Dhurwa’s Sector 3, the new offices at Galaxia Mall on Ratu Road cover two floors. The Regional Passport Office is on the third floor, while the online passport kiosk is on the second.
“The space is adequate and the new offices sport a smart, corporate look, which not many government offices (in Jharkhand) do. With the Passport Seva Kendra in Ranchi, we have altogether launched around 70 such offices across the country in a year,” Pardeshi said.
The MEA official is known to have held a review meeting with his Ranchi counterparts. Minutes of the meeting suggest that the number of people receiving passports has been on the rise in Jharkhand. In 2004, a total of 15,974 people received this foreign travel permit, the figure was 22,815 in 2005, 39,795 in 2010 and 40,472 till November this year.
“The progress has been satisfactory, but we still have a few challenges to meet. For instance, we have not been able to integrate every district police force for online verification, but our private partner (Tata Consultancy Services) is working on it,” Pardeshi said.
He added that the e-seva kendras had streamlined the process of issuing passports to a great extent in Jharkhand and elsewhere.
Are you happy with the current passport facilities in Ranchi?