In what is considered as a transition from e-Governance to m-Governance, applicants can soon apply for a passport, pay and book an appointment slot, all on their android-based smart phones.
Passport officials on Wednesday said that the presently available m-Governance app for android smart phones would soon be equipped with additional features so as to let a person apply for passport.
Speaking at a press conference at regional passport office here, Muktesh K Pardeshi, joint secretary (Passport Seva project) and chief passport officer, said, “In the next few months, we will be ready with the additional features for the App which will enable people to apply and pay for the passport from their smart phones.”
The ‘mPassport Seva’--an android App, was launched recently. The App as of now is providing smart phone and tablet users with a variety of services including passport application status, tracking, locating the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) and general information on various steps involved in obtaining a passport.
Pardeshi was here in the city to receive the e-India public choice award 2013 for the Passport Seva Project, under the Government to Citizen category. According to him, the project has not only enabled a secured passport procedure but also an error-free system.
Pardeshi also inaugurated the public dealing counters in the passport back office premises and the passport office CCTV control room which enables officials here to monitor activities at all 6 PSKs under the jurisdiction of Hyderabad RPO.
Dr K Srikar Reddy, regional passport officer, said that Hyderabad was the first one to launch the control room and applicants could directly talk with the officials between 3 and 4 p.m. everyday through Skype after registering with the assistant passport officers at PSKs.
The Passport Seva Project was implemented in June last year and about 74 lakh passports have been were issued in the country in the same year. The target for the year is set at 85 lakh. “Between January and June this year, we have issued 37 lakh passports in the country. We expect this to cross 75 lakh by the end of the year. Around 12 lakh passports were issued from the Indian embassies around the world, I believe we will cross 85 lakh this year,” Pardeshi said.
In Hyderabad, about 3.65 lakh applications have been processed and 3.48 lakh passports have been issued this year so far. Officials expect the total number to cross 6 lakh by end of this year. According to the chief passport officer, forged identity in the passport has become a thing of the past, thanks to the recent addition of a hitech technology called Letter Screen Image (LSI) also called as Ghost Image. “The security parameters in a passport have been increased so much. Ghost Image along with double laminated sheets in the passport will help stop the counterfeit ones,” he added.
He also said that police verification of passport applicants have improved immensely. “The information about the number of pendencies at the police stations and districts for police verification will be shared with the Director General of Police every month. The SPs in each district will also have the statistics available with him,” he said. The average number of days taken for issuance of police verification report in the state is 14 days, with districts like Krishna and Nellore doing the same in about 4 days.
Among the other future plans is to link passports with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and System (CCTNS). “Once this project is fully implemented, we would want to link all police stations with passport offices. A person’s criminal background could be checked from anywhere in the country once the project is implemented and police verification is required only after checking the system,” Pardeshi said.
Though passport offices at present accept Aadhar ID number as address proof along with supplementary documents, the chief passport officer, informed that they were talking with the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) to check for authenticity of the Aadhar numbers.
Immigration centres at all airports have access to passport database. Plans are afoot to give the same access to post and police departments also. “As part of the Passport Seva Project, we have given Immigration department access to our database to check authenticity of passports. We are extending this facility to police department and India Post too,” the chief passport officer said.