Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
Pune Passport Grievance Forum: Participants blame TCS for delay in getting their passports on time

Participants who attended the first meeting also alleged that they were told to go to a certain passport agent or passport official who would allegedly charge ‘illegal’ fees to hasten the process of their passport

The first citizen meeting of the Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF), held on 9 February 2013, was attended by 100 citizens. The meeting witnessed registration of 68 formal complaints by passport applicants who have not received their passports in the stipulated 45-day period.

 

Every applicant spoke about his or her grievance which was videographed and would be sent to the Chief Passport Officer, Delhi, Union external affairs minister and the Regional Passport Officer, Pune. The public private partnership (PPP) venture between Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the ministry of external affairs under which comes the Passport division has resulted in inordinate delays for issuance of passport, as per the experience of many passport applicants.

 

An official meeting between the Pune Police Commissioner, Regional Pune Passport Officer and the Pune head of TCS, Passport Division is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, at the behest of Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan, who also attended the meeting and gave support to the campaign. She said that getting a passport is the right of every citizen and in this age of technology, citizens should not be made to suffer. She said both her daughters too suffered as they did not take her ‘influence’ to get their passports. However, for one of the daughters she had to finally use her contacts as she broke down and could not suffer any more humiliation by the Pune Passport office. “Although the campaign of the PPGF has started from Pune, it should be made into a national campaign,” Ms Chavan said. If the issue is not resolved at the local Passport office level, then she will take it up with the Salman Khurshid, Union minister of external affairs, she added. She urged citizens to be pro-active in the campaign.

 

On its part, Sandeep Khardekar, one of the conveners of PPGF  said that we will wait for one week for the Passport Office to iron out the problems or else will start agitation in front of the Pune Passport Office, Senapati Bapat Road, TCS Passport Seva Kendra, Mundhwa and Pune Police Commissioner’s office, in rotation. The PPGF also appealed to Ms Chavan to have the offices of the Passport Office and TCS at one location for the convenience of citizens.

 

Vinita Deshmukh, convener of the PPGF stated that after the PPP venture with TCS, wherein technology and corporate efficiency was to result in an easy process of passport, citizens expressed that inordinate delays have become more common. The partnership project in Pune was launched in 2011.

 

The first hurdle which many face is to get an online appointment once their online application has been accepted. It takes several weeks or months.  After receiving an appointment date, the next ordeal is the police verification process. Often, the passport applicant is shuttled from the Passport Office to the Police department as each one passes the buck on the other. As for the TCS, it does not welcome any complaints although the IT services major has a 24x7 consumer grievance cell facility.  India’s Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi has gone on record to say that Pune Passport office has a good input/output record and that “vested interests” are trying to break the smooth functioning. Click here to read the story as well earlier stories on the topic:

We are not bound to give your passport in the 45-day period, says India’s Chief Passport Officer

File an RTI application if you do not get your passport in time

Inordinate delays at Pune Passport office; RTI applications rejected

 

Immense difficulty is faced by out-of-station passport applicants as they are made to visit the Police Commissionerate or the Passport Office again and again as they are sent back without being heard or for some flimsy reason.

 

Applicants alleged that they are told to go to a certain passport agent or passport official who would allegedly charge ‘illegal’ fees to hasten the process of their passport.

 

Applicants were informed about their right to apply under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to know the status of their passports. Vijay Kumbhar, one of the conveners of the PGGF provided a detailed guidance. Applicants were also asked to lodge their online complaints on the Public Grievance Cell website.

 

Vinita Deshmukh, Vijay Kumbhar and Sandeep Khardekar convened the meeting.

 

Citizens are requested to email [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] for any passport grievances.

User

COMMENTS

sagar shinde

4 years ago

Hello Mam. Main issues have not been resolved yet in pune passport office. Let me tell you few facts -
1) Booking window starts at 12noon sharp. As soon as you login and book a slot which is available, by the time you put verification code and process it (in around 30 seconds time) that slot is booked.
2) Shocking thing is- all 500 slots opened for booking get booked within a minute. 12.01 pm

Here are few simple solutions to avoid delays and to keep away agents in this process:
1) Booking of a slot should not be linked to the userid. Instead a temporary unique No. should be given to each applicant who fills up the passport form. And for booking of a slot user MUST provide- Unique temporary no and Full Name. Also, complete details of slots booked should be available online. Slot status- booked/ available, Temporary unique no , Full name of user who booked it. This will ensure efficiency in booking as agents can not book extra slots since they must provide unique no with Full name of candidate which only be known to candidate who fills up form.

2) There should be 2 ways of submitting forms. Online form or Offline . In online form - 200 to 300 window can be made open. In offline form submission, candidate has to personally visit the center , stand in queue and submit it. (For offline- again 300-400 slots can be made available daily). As soon as user enters the premises of office, A token machine will give him token no (with date printed on it). As in case of SBI bank, we get tokens and we wait for our token to appear on window. It is also called thru speaker.

3) In online mode, special case can be created and considered for senior citizen and for females(pregnant/handicapped)
Such people should have some fixed slots each day


Pls let me know your feedback on the same. I willing to discuss this further. You can pls mail me on [email protected]

Thanks and regards
sagar shinde

om bansal

4 years ago

i think , the division of responsibilities between tcs and mea is the rootcause of the problem. tcs should take over the entire chain of process, ie getting an appointment quickly without pain, answer queries on status, digitise the police records of applicants, so that verification can be done almost instantly. as of now, one does not know whom to blame for delays and harrassment, tcs, mea or police

Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

Ms.Vinita Deshukh,
Mr. Vijay Kumbhar &
Mr. Sandeep Khardekar,

Namaskar.

Define the role of TCS in PPP as mandated - sadly you have never yet -& then only cast aspersions on TCS!

You all are casting aspersions - not defined - by your say - rather someone's say - on a $6bn co.WHICH is always a preferred partner for augmenting techno services in India, the biggest s/w platform.

Vinita, all 68 complainants - pl give each & every aspect - where TCS figures in & THEIR GROUSE.

Why can't you file a petition? - both TCS & passport office/MEA for deficiency in service, delinquency of responsibilities to 'issue passport', WITHIN 45 days!

Anyway, Tue,12th, TCS, Pune Head will be answering the questions in the said meet, please do let me know the outcome & HIS statements.
[I do not hold any brief for TCS, if they are deficient they should be equally responsible.]

TCS should not be made a fall guy.

In issuance of passports, 'genuine' applicants should not suffer because of 'regional office' apathy or lethargy.

However i appreciate you all for the services rendered [thankless]to the society at large & not many may acknowledge it, you all are doing great work & for the first time i've this opportunity to thank Mr.Kumbhar.

Regards,

REPLY

Vinita Deshmukh

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 4 years ago

Mr Vinay Joshi - since you are so concerned about TCS having been made a fall guy (which i haven't accused it of - (i have been harping on the public-private-partnership which has unfortunately not delivered as it should in Pune, for which TCS has a vicarious responsibility for sure, since it has entered into the public domain through this venture. Thus, transparency is an essential factor). Thank you also for informing us that Pune head of TCS will be attending the meeting (I have been indirectly told so; none of my emails have been replied) pl procure the MoU copy between TCS and Ministry of External Affairs to know what its role is. You may use your good offices with TCS or use RTI for that. Going by the official communication, in the press release dated October 13, 2008 issued by TCS when it entered into PPP in 2008 (http://www.tcs.com/news_events/press_rel... ). Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice President, Global Government Business Group stated that, TCS's commitment would be: “A call center would be established to help the applicants with information regarding passport procedures and the status of submitted requests. Grievances would be tracked and closed. Passport Facilitation Centers (PFCs) will be the primary hubs supporting all activities including biometric capture, photograph, payment and verification and issue of passports in the presence of applicants for most cases… Complete tracking of the process would be possible in the system. Police nodal offices will be facilitated by TCS personnel and it will be possible to download passport forms there directly, thus eliminating any logistic delay.’’
The press release tom-tommed this PPP as “India's Largest Mission Critical E-governance Project of over Rs10,000 million; Passports to be delivered after three working days post police-verification.’’
However, there is no doubt that the Passport Office and Police dept are largely responsible but corporates who are now getting into PPPs must remember that they are an integral part of a citizen's life.When they come out in the open, people will be thankful to them. TCS has an impeccable track record and there is no reason why it cannot play a major role in this particular e-governance partnership. I think there is a disconnect between the three agencies. Looking forward to this evening's meeting and by the way, let me inform you that the objective of Pune Passport Grievance Forum is not to create `fall guys' but to address an issue which is bothering citizens and to sort it out with the authorities. As you know Passport is almost become an essential commodity specially in a global city like Pune!

om bansal

4 years ago

i dont think TCS is the cause of delays, they have almost 25 cubicles in section A at PSK, its at section B, manned by MEA which has 10 desks and then further reduced to 4 or 5 desks in section C. but all this comes , if you successfully upload your application, which most people can not do, so comes the touts of the yore, now called consultants, who do it for 2000.haveing got ARN, to get an appointment is next to impossible as window opens for 5 minutes at 3 pm each working days.it may take a month to get a slot. why not do what the US embassy do at VFS, its open 24x7, take an appointment on available slot in advance up to 90 days, like we do in railway booking .
police verification is another point which needs relook. presently the file moves manually from PSK to police commissioner, then to concerned police station for physical verification, which takes time , then it goes back to PSK via police head quarters. this could be done digitally. what needs co location is not TCS at PSK, but police verification wing with PSK, so this delay due physical movement can be reduced/eliminated.this process needs serious work study solution.
funneling at section B and C needs to solved by additional staff.

REPLY

Vinita Deshmukh

In Reply to om bansal 4 years ago

Dear Mr Bansal, your suggestions well taken. Tks. Public-Private-Partnerships are being opted for by the govt to outsource efficiency and e-governance. So, people expect that if TCS has come into the passport venture, it would mean quick delivery and no harassment to citizens. The contrary has happened in Pune. We are not saying that TCS has the ultimate responsibility but the major issue of not getting online appointments easily can surely be sorted out in co-ordination with MeA as it relates to e-governance. Surely, the citizen should be able to track his status with the click of his mouse(now he gets different versions when he goes to Passport office and police). When he contacts TCS office, he is told its responsibility ends with digitalisation of his documents. So, it is all v frustrating for citizens.

om bansal

In Reply to Vinita Deshmukh 4 years ago

well, it depends on what the contract says between mea and tcs. its quite possible that the deal with tcs ends after the docs are digitised. if that be the case, then next step needs to be taken to improve the subsequent process. this is exactly what i have said.

Sunil

4 years ago

It is quite amazing that a company like TCS is quiet and does not respond and come clean about what the real issue is. The least it could do is specify what it has done with the grievances filed by applicants. TCS - a company from the Tata Group needs to decide whether it needs to be in such a business where its reputation and ethics will be questioned or be bracketed along with companies like IRB - who get into the businesses they do because of their closeness to all political parties and who do not care about what their users think about them.

REPLY

Vinay Joshi

In Reply to Sunil 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Sunil,

Please find out what TCS is?

Regards,

Vinita Deshmukh

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 4 years ago

Dear Mr Vinay Joshi
This is with reference to your statement int he above comments section: ``Anyway, Tue,12th, TCS, Pune Head will be answering the questions in the said meet, please do let me know the outcome & HIS statements'' - well, Mr Manoj Raghav, Pune's TCS head strangely did not attend the meeting although he had confirmed in the morning. He told the Regional Passport Officer that he was in Goa. So I am sorry I cannot tell you the outcome of HIS statements but we are lodging a complaint with the ministry of external affairs for avoiding a meeting which was not only initiated by Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan but was for the cause of hardships faced by citizens in getting their rightful passports. So, Mr Joshi don't be too confident of your friends and like a good journalist learn to be objective in your predictions! By the way, you may also tell your friends in TCS that they do not come under the Official Secrets Act once they have joint venture with the govt but come under RTI Act. Thank you

Sunil

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Joshi

I know what TCS is , if you mean their role in the above, I think this is addressed in the reply by Ms. Vinita in one of the comments.

Sunil

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Moneylife Foundation Property Tax Burden seminar: Why the New Method is Anti-people

Mumbai’s housing societies recently received fat property tax bills with arrears for the past three years. Experts believe that there is no justification in this bill, particularly because your bill is based on the Ready Reckoner rate, which is a flawed method. Read on to find out the reasons behind the rate increase and what you should do about it.

Moneylife Foundation’s 153rd seminar, on 9 February 2013, received an enormous response, from Mumbaiites concerned about the hefty tax they’ve been asked to pay with arrears on their property. Mr Ashok Ravat, a noted civic activist and founder-convener of the Shivaji Park Advanced Locality Movement, and Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, President of Sahar Citizens Forum and ardent RTI activist, who took on the difficult task of simplifying these complicated matters for lay persons. The seminar wasn’t just a breakdown of the flaws in the method of calculation, though. Mr Ravat and Mr Pimenta discussed the reasons for the introduction of the new method, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC’s) ‘intentional’ errors in calculating bills, and explained how to tackle the problem. The seminar was attended by more than 120 people, at least 20 of them standing and 35 unable to enter because there was not even standing room.

Mr Ashok Ravat began the seminar, wasting no time in getting to the point. He said, “The new system, the capital-value-based tax system is totally flawed. It hasn’t been accepted by any other municipal corporation, just ours. You would be right to wonder why the Ready Reckoner rate is the basis of the calculation. It is, after all, supposed to be only for stamp duty calculation.”
 

The BMC was able to get elected representatives to agree to this new method, Mr Ravat said, by agreeing not to increase the rates of those flats under 500 sq ft, to increase the rate of other residential properties by no more than twice the current rate, and of commercial properties by no more than three times the rate. He said, “However, those people whose rate has not increased right now will find a sharp increase of 40% two years hence. Those who have been served with this special notice should protest the bill, but pay it by 31 March 2013. This is because otherwise you will have to pay a penalty of 2% per month.”
 

The new system also doesn’t take into account all the details of a property. It does not consider the various planning and design aspects, quality of materials used, outgoings, or building regulations. Every property, from the slum to the luxury apartment, is being taxed at the same rate. Mr Ravat also said that it was being completely unfriendly to the property owners of Mumbai by not serving them with notices directly. He said, “If the bill is for me, why are they giving it to the society? If the secretary is inactive, you may not even know. If there’s no society formed, they are giving it to the original developer. Those affected the most may be the tenants. This is because if they are not informed and don’t pay, their flat may be evacuated after six months of non-payment.”
 

To address the more technical matters, Advocate Godfrey Pimenta then took over. He used his own bill as an example and also brought up the many other bills he has reviewed. But he began by explaining why the BMC has decided to change its property tax calculation method. He said, “There’s a simple reason for the change from the rateable value system. It has been caused by financial mismanagement of the BMC. The facilities we taxpayers receive are small, but the frauds within the corporation are large. You must have read about the fake bills of Rs70 crore by a contractor. You should also know that the Anti-Corruption Bureau has called the BMC the most corrupt body in the country. Nowhere in the world are property taxes so high.”
 

Advocate Pimenta said that the BMC is now trying to raise property tax to receive generous grants from Jawaharlal Nehru Urban National Renewal Mission. 65 corporations, including BMC, have signed up for this. Part of the mandate is to create a geographical information system to indentify property owners and to increase the number of property tax payers. Advocate Pimenta said, “The BMC, to fulfill the mandate has to bring 85% of property owners in India under the system. But it hasn’t been able to. How it is trying to compensate is by raising the tax bill of 55% of the people whose area has already been taxed. So instead of increasing the number of people, it has increased the rate. Of course, it hasn’t bothered to increase the number of people because that would mean taxing the slum-dwellers, which it doesn’t want to do.”
 

Several mistakes have been found in the property tax bills by Advocate Pimenta. He said, “What you need to do is check whether they’ve got the details right. Look at your old property tax bill and verify whether the right details are in the new bill. Your area, the floor, etc, should be correct, the age of the building should be correct. In my case, I found four mistakes. For example, my flat on the first floor was taxed at the rate meant for flats above the 100th floor. This is an ‘intentional’ mistake. The BMC knows what it is doing and hopes you won’t notice. In other bills I have noticed that the age of the building is different in different bills.”
 

Advocate Pimenta ended his talk by urging participants to protest their bills, saying that there are several organisations currently building a case against the BMC, and asked tax payers not to panic. The talk was followed by a very engaging and lengthy question and answer session, during which both speakers took the opportunity to clear the doubts of the participants.

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COMMENTS

VISHWAS S KHADE

4 years ago

what is the latest regarding bmc taxes

Bharat Gandhi

4 years ago

Sincere thanks to the Moneylife Foundation to organize the event, thanks to both speakers; Shri Ashok Raut and Adv. Mr. Godfrey Pimenta to provide in-sight realities on various problems surfaced especially the assessing authorities' dependent on Ready Reckoner's property value for stamp duty calculation adopted to issue new property tax bills. Adv. Godfrey have been kind enough to prepare running into thirty pages " Draft " of complaint, which will be mailed in due course by the Moneylife Foundation to all registered with them. once again thanks to Ms. Sucheta Dalal, Mr. Basu and entire team to remain standing continiously for three hours accommodate more than capacity of premises and proivde refreshment without charges any any free! Best wishes to the Foundation.

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