No. 1 again in passport check delay
Police 'too busy' withlaw-and-order duties
Calcutta: Bengal is back in pole position among the laggards in police verification for passports despite help from technology.
According to the latest data, 46,967 passport applications are awaiting police verification in the state.
Compared to the national average of 10 to 15 days, police in Bengal take 41 days on an average to send a verification report against each application. Some states take more time to finish the verification process but none has as many pending applications as Bengal, a senior official in the ministry of external affairs said.
"Pendency depends on two factors - total volume of applications and the response time of the police," the official said.
An application is sent for police verification after it is cleared at the Passport Seva Kendra. The police are required to carry out a physical verification of the candidate's address and check the authenticity of the documents submitted with the application. A positive report is necessary for a passport to be issued.
The process of applying for a passport has undergone several changes over the past few years. The long queues at the regional passport office just to submit applications have long gone. Online appointments were introduced in 2011, followed by several relaxations in the process of verification.
To make the process easier for the police, the passport office had an app developed and promoted the use of tablets to record information and transmit it in a snap. Still, little seems to have changed when it comes to pendency of applications in this state.
Metro had reported on January 24, 2011, that Bengal had topped the laggards' list with a pendency of 34,131 applications till the end of 2010. This was almost half the number of applications pending across the country.
On Thursday, a section of the police blamed the pressure of law-and-order duties for passport verification taking the backseat. "Look at the past few months. The strain on manpower and time because of panchayat polls and regular law-and-order duties has left negligible room for passport work," said a senior officer in the state police directorate.
Darjeeling police take 103 days on an average to complete a passport verification, which is the longest across all districts. Howrah police take the least time, completing the job in 14 days.
Bibhuti Bhushan Kumar, the regional passport officer in Calcutta, said five more post-office passport seva kendras - Balurghat, Kharagpur, Chinsurah, Diamond Harbour and Rampurhat - have been sanctioned for Bengal.