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:
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.
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