Siliguri, March 20: The passport application and collection centre in Siliguri would be shut from April 1, which would force people in the city and surrounding areas to travel to Calcutta or Behrampore.
“This office will stop functioning with effect from 1.04.2013. The applicants are requested to submit the application forms either in passport seva kendra in Behrampore or Kolkata,” read a notice issued by the regional passport officer in Calcutta.
While Calcutta is 600km from Siliguri, Behrampore is around 370km from here.
Sources at the passport application and collection centre (PACC) said Siliguri is supposed to get a passport seva kendra but it would take at least eight months to become operational. So, closing the PACC before the passport kendra becomes functional would inconvenience people.
Today, the Trinamul Youth Congress threatened to launch an agitation demanding that the Union ministry of external affairs revoke its closure order. A delegation led by Darjeeling district Trinamul Youth Congress president Prabir Roy submitted a memorandum to Shubhra Roy, the officer in charge of the passport application and collection centre (PACC) in Siliguri.
“This passport office was started at the behest of Mamata Banerjee when she was the Union minister of railways in 2000. She had taken up the issue with the then minister of state for external affairs, Ajit Panja, and the PACC was set up here. The closure is a conspiracy of the Congress-led central government to stagnate the growth of the region when Mamata is trying her best to bring about rapid development here,” said Krishna Pal, the district secretary general of Trinamul. “We will stage demonstrations, confine officials and carry out other forms of agitation if the order is not revoked,” he added. The PACC receives around 50-60 applications a day. It issues passport forms, receives applications and sends them to the regional passport office in Calcutta for processing. People have to travel to the regional passport office in Calcutta for some signatures. Once the PSK is in place, all passport verification steps would be done in Silig uri. “Although there has been no official communication, we got to know that a PSK will be opened in Siliguri. But it will take around seven to eight months to set up a PSK,” said an administrative source.