Indian citizens could get their passports in three days or less, starting March 2009.
According to an agreement to be signed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Monday, 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) will be set up across the country that will take just three days to issue passports in normal conditions (post-police verification) and tatkal passports in a single day. See graph.
Pilot PSKs in Bangalore and Chandigarh are scheduled to begin operations by March 2009. The remaining 75 kendras will be set up, and upgradation of the existing 37 passport offices completed, by January 2010.
In all, the number of public dealing counters at these outlets will go up from the existing 345 to 1,250. The wait to submit a passport application would be cut down to 45 minutes in “comfortable and decent conditions”.
“On-line services such as registration for application submission at a fixed time and end to end tracking of applications by the citizens will be provided.
“An effective information system, including three national call centres and grievance redressal system, will be set up,” an official note said.
“Front-end activities, not involving sovereign and sensitive functions, have been outsourced to TCS through an open bidding process. Eight companies had bid for the project out of which six were short-listed. Out of them TCS was finally selected based on the lowest quote per transaction,” an official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said.
Government employees will continue to perform “sovereign and sensitive functions such as granting, printing, dispatch of passports, overall monitoring and policy issues.”
An on-line secure link with police authorities for quick movement of police verification information will be set-up.
The MEA has embarked on this ambitious mission given the rising demand for passports in the country. In 2007 alone, the Ministry issued about 50 lakh passports while the figure for 2005 was about 35 lakh.