New Delhi: Amid
unending complaints about delays in issuing passports, External
Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday urged officers to develop a
"good working relationship" with police so as to issue passports
promptly to citizens.
"I attach very high importance to prompt, efficient and courteous
manner of delivery of passport services. Passport officers are the
public face of the ministry of external affairs," Krishna told a
conference of passport officers from all over the country.
Alluding to a large number of complaints about alleged harassment
of people visiting passport offices by officials or agents,
discourteous behaviour and difficulties in accessing information
or officials, the minister said that "these problems should be
Taking note of growing pendency in passport delivery services that
arise largely due to pending police verifications, Krishna
exhorted the officers to coordinate and have a "good working
relationship" with police.
"I would also like that this pendency be eliminated, at least in
those cases where police verifications have been received, by the
end of the year," Krishna said.
Referring to the doubling of passport applications since 2000,
Krishna told officers that their workload would grow in the coming
years as the number of Indians travelling abroad was increasing by
A record number of over 5.3 million passports were issued in
2010-11, in addition to rendering more than 600,000
"The demand on the passport offices would continue to grow in the
months and years to come. This offers not only new opportunities
but also enormous challenges," he said.
Stressing greater accountability, Krishna called for a public
grievance redressal mechanisms that have been put in place.
"Priority should be accorded to increase accountability within the
system so that grievances/complaints are indeed attended to."
He suggested designating an 'Open Day' for addressing the
complaints received from the public.
Krishna, in particular, emphasised faster and easier issuance of
passports to Haj pilgrims.
"Next year as well, you should take measures for opening separate
counters for the Haj pilgrims; holding special Passport Adalats;
and liaisoning with police authorities to obtain police reports on
Lauding the Passport Seva Project, an e-governance initiative, a
success, he said 30 out of 77 such Kendras planned have become
operational and hoped that the remaining would be functional by
March next year.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, too, stressed on fast-tracking of
passport issuance and stressed on emerging challenges.
"The world is full of troubled spots. We may have problems in the
future. So we need to build an interface to meet such needs.
Passport officers should be equipped to handle such situations,"
Mathai also said that he has written to the finance ministry about
complaints relating to poor quality of paper used in passports and
assured that an action plan has been put in place to sort out the
Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi informed that India
Security Press, which prints the documents, has agreed to send a
delegation, if need be, to Canada and other countries to study the
material used by them and the additional security features.