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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2005
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TIRUCHI: Perplexed by the poor public patronage of the District Passport Cells, opened in district headquarters to receive passport applications, officials of the Regional Passport Office are now making concerted efforts to encourage applicants to use the facility better.
Widespread "misconception" that submission of passport applications at the cells would cause a delay in the issue of passports seems to be the main reason for the situation even as the Regional Passport Office here struggles to handle the ever-increasing number of applicants who throng the office every day. The Passport Office is overcrowded leading to attendant problem of cheating by touts.
Regional Office swamped
On an average, about 500 to 600 applicants throng the Regional Office to submit their applications. Many of them come from far off places, as the office has a huge jurisdictional area comprising as many as 16 districts, including Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Dindigul, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai, Perambalur, Karur, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Madurai, Theni, Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. The District Passport Cells were opened in the Collectorates of respective districts primarily to reduce the pressure on the Regional Office. Passport applications could also be submitted at the Speed Post Collection Centres at Tiruchi, Karur, Tuticorin, Nagercoil and Tirunelveli Head Post Offices. Yet, just 20 to 30 per cent of the applications received by the regional office are forwarded through the cells. People from almost all the districts prefer to submit their applications directly at the Tiruchi office. A common plaint of the applicants is that the cells take about a month to process and forward their applications to the Regional Office. Besides, the applications are forwarded only in batches, they complain.
The Regional Passport Office strongly refutes the complaint. "Contrary to popular belief, there could be no delay in processing time on account of the applications being submitted at the district cells. In fact, it could only expedite the process as the applications are forwarded from the cells along with police verification reports," says K.S. Daulat Thameem, Regional Passport Officer. On the other hand, it could take a longer time to obtain the police verification reports for applicants from remote places who submit their applications at the Regional Office.
Applicants could save time, money and effort in travelling to Tiruchi as they could easily submit their applications at the district cells. "We do not differentiate between applications forwarded through the district cells and those submitted here. Efforts are on to popularise the cells," Mr. Thameem says.
The average time taken to issue fresh passports is about 90 days. But, this is mainly due to the short supply of passport booklets. Once the problem is sorted out, the time taken to issue the passports would come down substantially, officials point out.
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