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Passport office crippled by lack of manpower

WHILE NUMBER of passports being issued from the Regional Passport Office, Bhopal, has increased three-fold in the last once decade, the manpower has remained the same. The result: inordinate delay. A passport, which should be issued in 45 days, is taking 115 days or more. Bhopal RPO, which also covers Chhattisgarh, receives nearly 350-375 applications per day.
None | By Debobrat Ghose, Bhopal
PUBLISHED ON JUL 28, 2006 01:03 AM IST

WHILE NUMBER of passports being issued from the Regional Passport Office, Bhopal, has increased three-fold in the last once decade, the manpower has remained the same. The result: inordinate delay. A passport, which should be issued in 45 days, is taking 115 days or more. Bhopal RPO, which also covers Chhattisgarh, receives nearly 350-375 applications per day.

In a decade the office has registered a staggering growth of 128 per cent in passport issuance, apart from rendering miscellaneous services, but surprisingly no additional manpower has been provided by the Central Government to cope with increasing pressure.

According to sources, the RPO had requested the Centre for additional staff but to no avail. Currently, the office is having a regional passport officer, two superintending officers, 15 operating staff, eight casual workers and three class IV employees.

Considering volume of the work, requisition for four superintending officers and 40 operational staff has been asked for. The RPO does not have any public relation officer, too, which puts entire pressure on operational staff to delegate information to the public.

The serpentine queues before the counters bear testimony to the fact that both RPO staff and applicants have to bear the brunt of longstanding neglect. MP has only 10 passport cells at divisional levels, along with five speed post centres to receive applications, whereas Chhattisgarh has 16 cells in each district and a speed post centre at Raipur.

“MP decided to have cells only at divisional levels against the recommendation for district-level cells,” an official remarked. “Under Tatkal scheme, we provide passport in two days, but there’re several people who demand passports in a single day, which is virtually impossible,” adds an operational staff at RPO.   

According to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) source, since some new passport offices are in pipeline, the requisition for additional staff has been forwarded to Finance Ministry by MEA.

“It’s expected that some of the staff members from Finance Ministry would be deployed in passport offices,” the source added.

When contacted, Regional Passport Officer T D Sharma told Hindustan Times that the matter has been forwarded to the Government of India and it is expected that additional staff would be provided.  

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