Forget long queues, greasy touts and phone calls to officers with “requests”. Within 45 minutes of entering the passport office, you will know when you are receiving the document — the same day, in three days or in a fortnight.
And in case your waiting time at the clean, brightly-lit passport office takes 46 minutes or more, the service provider will shell out a penalty for wasting your time. A ‘FiFo’ (first in, first out) system will ensure no one will be allowed to pull strings to push their application over yours.
These aren’t just the fantasies of a harassed passport seeker. A mega overhaul of the system, slated for completion by the third quarter of 2009, promises to cut red tape, end harassment and make sifarish redundant.
By March 31, the external affairs ministry will home in on one of six shortlisted companies — Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, 3iInfotech, SpanCo, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd — to be the passport service provider. A total 28 parameters (like cleanliness, courtesy, efficiency etc) will have to be met by the provider, who will be held accountable for any lacunae.
The demand for passports is growing at over 18 per cent annually. Around 1,250 people apply daily in Delhi alone. In 2007, the government issued close to 5 million passports, up from 4.4 million in 2006. By 2011, an estimated 10 million passports will be issued each year.
Applicants will go to passport “front offices”, where their pictures will be taken. Both pictures and documents will be scanned and put in an e-database. Police verification may or may not be required.