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Passport Seva Kendra inaugural on June 30

Special Correspondent

Applicants can track status through a toll-free number

— Photo: S. James

HI-TECH: The fingerprints of a passport applicant being scanned by a TCS executive in Madurai on Monday.

MADURAI: The newly established Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) on the Kochadai Road over an area of 11,000 square feet here would be dedicated to the public on June 30, said Regional Passport Officer (Madurai) Jose K. Mathew on Monday.

Prior to the inauguration, media persons were taken around the new facility by the passport authorities and representatives from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The Ministry of External Affairs has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the TCS to establish 77 PSKs across the country. Such PSKs are functioning in States including Karnataka.

In Tamil Nadu, Chennai had three PSKs; Coimbatore had one, while Tiruchi and Thanjavur would get one each (to be launched on June 29) and Madurai and Tirunelveli PSKs would become operational from June 30, he said.

Explaining the features, the authorities said that from June 30 onwards, applicants from Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts could submit their papers at the PSK at Kochadai here, while applicants (residents) of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts could use the one at Tirunelveli city.

The hi-tech air-conditioned premises is spacious and comfortable with huge seating capacity at the waiting area on the ground floor. Like in the past, applicants can log on to the website and fill in the application forms online.

Applicants can also scan and upload relevant supporting documents or download the e-form, fill it and upload it in the above website.

After taking note of the application reference number (ARN) and armed with the scheduled appointment, they can visit the PSK. Instead of waiting in long queues, which was in vogue in the old Passport Office, the PSK offers adequate seating. A large size screen informs the status of the applications.

As and when applicants get their turn, they will be guided to the first floor, where the TCS executives process the papers.

The process includes photographing and finger print reading with state-of-the-art gadgets. Since the photographs are being taken at the PSK, applicants need not carry any photographs with them.

Documents, such as birth certificate and residence proof among others, are thoroughly examined by the passport staff at the verification zone.

“All sovereign functions of determining whom to grant or verify lies with the government officials only,” the TCS representatives clarified. The final step is the granting zone, where the applicant is issued an acknowledgement of receipt of the application.

With cooperation from police department, the verification process is expected to be swift and once the papers are verified, the new passport will be issued. “It should not take more than a month from the acceptance of applications,” officials hoped.

Mr. Jose said that in the old Passport Office, the staff received close to 450-500 applications daily between 9.30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

However, the number is likely to go up in the new PSK as the working hours would be from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number of counters at the processing area too would be more so that an applicant should not take more than 20 minutes, he opined.

Yet another feature is that the applicants can track the status of the application through toll free number 1800-258-1800.

The TCS representatives said that the uni-directional approach would help the applicants move faster and in the event of any difficulties, the floor marshals would assist the public.

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