Passport in three days!

Social media delivers what technology can’t

samirsachdeva

Samir Sachdeva | May 19, 2011



The teething problems for the passport seva pilot project continues with people under the Bangalore regional passport office (RPO) still complaining of delays in getting online appointment to visit passport seva kendras (PSKs), not to talk of the passport itself.

The delays in getting an online appointment often go beyond a month, which is 10 times the period (three days) the government promised for issuing the passports. It appears that the technology has become a hindrance rather than a tool to resolve problem, at least in this case. The government on its part has blamed the high demand of passports and has stated that over 3,000 passports are processed every day in the PSKs under the Bangalore RPO. The residents under the Bangalore RPO were submitting their passports at Bangalore One centres and they had no complaints, but now the PSK model is creating problems.

On the other hand, the residents under the Chandigarh RPO are satisfied with the new system and many have got their passports within three days. The fact that the two pilot RPOs have delivered different results is a subject of analysis. Is it that the delay in passport issuance was never a technology issue but a people issue?

I applied for reissue of my passport in the beginning of February along with my wife at the Delhi RPO (which is still working in the old system). The police verification was completed within the 15 days but I got my passport after two months. In case of my wife, the status till date is: ‘police report clear. Passport under process”. The ministry of external affairs has always blamed police for delaying verification and thus the passport issuance but at least in our case police delivered its part on time and the delay has come from the RPO staff.

So, is it that the RPO staff is over-worked and therefore the delay? But it is also a fact that if one goes through a travel agent for getting a passport the process is completed in just a few days. How does the same staff, which is inefficient in case of general public, becomes over-efficient when the applicants choose the travel agent route?

In my wife’s case I wrote to the additional secretary (consular passport visa) in the ministry through his newly created Twitter accounted @ascpv last week. In his quick response he has advised us to collect the passport from the RPO Delhi today. This, I think, is the power of social media. It appears that Gov 2.0 (through Twitter) has achieved what Gov 1.0 (e-governance in passport issuance) could not achieve.

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