NEW DELHI:Getting a new passport is set to get easier, with the postal department planning to issue the document through its countrywide network of offices. As the government grapples with a lack of manpower for the huge number of applications, the department will process applications under a pilot project in the capital by the year-end.
The postal department will start processing passport applications at major post offices in the capital by the year-end. If the project is successful, all Indian post offices will start issuing the document.
“Since the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has not been able to cope with the huge application demand for passports and a lack of manpower, it will delegate the task to the postal department. We are in the final stages of discussion with the MEA,” a senior official in the postal department said.
He added that the reason of starting the pilot project in Delhi is to resolve the unforeseen operational problems that may arise on a day-to-day basis.
There are five Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) in the capital, which handle 2,000 applications per day. Applicants who want a passport have to first take an online appointment to submit their application. The demand is so huge that most applicants have to wait even three-four months for an appointment.
However, there are three categories at the PSK, namely A, B and C. Category A is outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), whereby the applicant’s documents are uploaded and fingerprints and photographs are taken. The other two categories, B and C, are managed by the MEA.
“Category A will be still outsourced to TCS. For the B and C categories, instead of MEA employees, the postal department will carry out the task. Postal employees are also undergoing training to get the applications done,” the official said.
It is expected that around 150-200 applications will be processed from a post office. According to the MEA, over 1.2 crore passport-related applications were processed in 2015, marking a growth of 18 per cent over 2014. As of March 31, 2015, the Indian Postal Service had 1,54,939 post offices, of which around 90 per cent are in rural areas and the rest in urban areas.