You may have to give a 'tip' to get a passport
The passport office recently decentralised the process of applying for a passport, to make life easier for applicants who had to travel from across the city and suburbs to the head-office at Worli. However, the move doesn't seem to have borne the intended results.mumbai Updated: Aug 31, 2011 00:42 IST
The passport office recently decentralised the process of applying for a passport, to make life easier for applicants who had to travel from across the city and suburbs to the head-office at Worli. However, the move doesn't seem to have borne the intended results.
HT spoke to several applicants who complained about leaks in the process. Having experienced the corrupt system first hand, they agreed to be quoted only if names were changed to protect their identities.
Borivli resident Swati Pillai was being sent to the UK by her employer, and applied for a passport. Pillai went to the Samta Nagar police station, which is one of the five centres - in addition to the main passport office - where one can submit the application. "I made five trips to the police station only to submit the form," Pillai said. "After the initial visits, a friend suggested that I offer a 'tip'. My application form was finally accepted, but only when it was accompanied by a hundred-rupee note."
However, things are not any better for those going to the head office at Worli. Subodh Nair, an employee at an accountancy firm, recalls the ordeal he went through when he went to submit his application. "I had taken half a day's leave from office to submit the form. I reached at 9.30am, but ended up waiting in queue for several hours. It was only later that I realised that the two persons ahead in the line were dummies, standing on behalf of some agents," complained Nair. "They had been paid by the agents, who came in with their clients much later, but left long before I could even reach the counter," he added.
These aren't the only problems. There have also been instances when policemen from the local police station went for verification of address, and suggested that the application might not get cleared unless the applicant turned in a small 'fee'.
Elroy Ebnazer, a professor with a city-based college, said, "I was flying to France on a scholarship, and had limited time to get my passport done. My friends suggested that I give some money to the policeman who comes for verification, which I did and my work was done instantly."