1. External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj inaugurated a three day Passport Officers’ Conference at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhavan today. Thirty Seven Passport Officers are participating in the Conference.
2. The occasion also marked observance of ‘Passport Seva Divas’ commemorating 24th June as the day the Passports Act 1967 was enacted. The Act lays down the foundation of a sound legal framework for issuance of Passports and other travel documents in India.
3. The Minister unveiled a‘Passport Seva’ lapel to be used by all the officials of the 37 Passport Offices and 77 Passport Seva Kendras in the country, with a view to promote camaraderie and to renew the pledge to serve fellow citizens better.
4. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister emphasised that the observance of Passport Seva Divas should not be merely ritualistic. Rather these are opportunities to assess our strength and weaknesses, achievements and shortcomings and to look for ways and means to fill the gaps.
5. The Minister expressed Government’s resolve to introduce citizen-friendly administrative reforms and policies aimed at restoring faith of the people in the system and bringingvisible change in their lives. The Minister exhorted upon the Passport Issuing Authorities to serve the public with courtesy and empathy and not to take passport issuance merely as routine official duty as the word ‘Seva’ itself connotes selfless service with humility. The Minister impressed on the need for good governance by ensuring timely, effective and accountable service delivery. The Minister impressed upon all the stakeholders to brain-storm for further simplification of processes and procedures and to do away with the redundant ones.
6. The Minister expressed satisfaction at the efforts of Central Passport Organisation (CPO) in reforming the system but felt that there was much more scope for improvement. The reformative measures mustfocus on the concerns and welfare of the common man – the last man in the queue. Moreover, the utmost need, in this age of information, is to keep the passport applicants informed of the status of their applications so as not cause anxiety to them. Speed and efficiency should be the motto of Passport Seva.
7. The Minister, in recognition of the outstanding services rendered to citizens, gave away Passport Seva Puraskars to the best performing Passport Offices and the personnel of the Service Provider. Police verification, being a critical component of passport issuance, awards were also given away to the Police Departments ofDelhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to recognise their efforts in speedy police clearances.
8. In an overview of Passport Seva, Smt. Sujatha Singh, Foreign Secretary, outlined the transformative features ofthe Passport Seva Project which include:
·Increased network of 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) acting as extended arms of 37 Passport Offices across the country
·Longer working hours to benefit the citizens.
·24*7 National Call Centre Support in 17 languages
·Complete digitization and processing of application when applicant visits the PSK reducing the overall time spent and eliminating multiple visits
·Biometric data and photographs taken in highly secure environment
·Granting decision taken in front of the applicant leading to greater transparency
·Citizens leave the PSK with certainty on the status of their application
·Online real-time availability of data for ease ofmonitoring and decision making.
9. More than 1.7 crore passport services have been rendered in the new system.The Conference organised on 23 – 25 June 2014, is deliberating on improving overall management of passport delivery andfocussing on reliability, speed, security and transparency. The Conference concludes with a motivational programme aimed at improving efficiency and efficacy of Passport Issuing Authorities.