The Passport Seva portal will be updated in 10 days, according to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which is implementing the Passport Seva Project in association with the Ministry of External Affairs.Acknowledging inconsistencies in the list of documents the website mentions and those demanded by the staff at Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs), a TCS representative said the discrepancies had been sorted out. “We were awaiting a clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs to update the website and it has come now.” K.J. Srinivasa, Regional Passport Officer, Bangalore, said the Ministry was apprised of the discrepancies a couple of months ago and addressing the issues of “local variations” would go a long way in resolving confusion.
Confusion persists over passport documents requirement:
The Passport Seva website lists the Electors Photo Identity Card as one of the documents to be submitted by applicants for proof of address. But, nowhere is it mentioned that the ID should have been issued at least a year ahead of the date of the passport application. The staff members of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which is implementing the Passport Seva Project in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, as well as at the Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) turn away applicants if the photo ID card is not at least one year old.
This is just one of several glitches that frustrate hundreds of hapless applicants at the PSKs. The experience turns all the more galling if the applicant managed to secure an online appointment after trying for days.
Unsure of being able to meet the documentation requirements on their own, many passport applicants have begun to turn to agents. Ironically, the Passport Seva Project, when it was launched about two years ago, sought to do away with middlemen by making the process “transparent, more accessible and reliable”.
Gayathri, a resident of Mysore, approached an agent who not only helped her with the documentation but also secured an online appointment with the PSK at Lalbagh in Bangalore. “I paid the agent Rs. 1,200 as fee for assisting me with the documentation and securing me an appointment,” she said.
A travel agent in Rajajinagar in Bangalore confessed to being approached by passport applicants regularly.
Though the number has come down after the introduction of the Passport Seva Project — which entails online filling and submission of application forms besides securing appointments — there is still a steady trickle of passport aspirants to travel agencies. “Two years ago, we may have been handling 60 to 70 applications a month. Now, we handle about half that,” an agent said.
So why do the hopefuls approach agents? Some passport aspirants are confused over what documents to bring, while others are technologically handicapped, not familiar with the online process. The latter are also all at sea when it comes to securing appointments online.
The process is somewhat of a challenge to agents too. They said even though they are quick at grabbing the appointments released on the website at 6 p.m. every day, they are able to secure a maximum of three appointments a day as there is a ceiling on the same for each IP address.
Source : Hindu
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