‘Passport is a global identity and is the right of every individual in the world’

Sakal Times
Monday, 11 February 2019

Anant Takwale said the Pune region handled well the waiting list after jurisdiction was extended and managed to bring down the waiting time for applicants. He said people should not hide information while filling passport forms.

In a tete-tete with Sakal Times, the Regional Passport Officer, Pune and the 2006 batch an Indian Police Service (IAS) Anant Takwale said the five new Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) are now fully operational and there is no waiting time for applicants. He said the Pune region handled well the waiting list after jurisdiction was extended and managed to bring down the waiting time for applicants. He said people should not hide information while filling passport forms.

- Last year, Pune region’s jurisdiction was doubled with addition of six districts from Marathwada to existing six districts from western Maharashtra. How did you manage to deal with these additional responsibilities?
We opened 11 Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) across the Pune region in the last few months. With the addition of new districts, the demand has gone up, but we have managed to keep the balance by opening new seva kendras. Post Office, Passport Seva Kendra (POSPK) now working as full-fledged Passport Seva Kendras. Earlier, POSPK of Satara, Sangli, Nanded, Beed and Pandharpur were functioning like a passport camp, wherein the application forms were collected after capturing biometric details. Then, the files were sent to PSK Mundhwa for scanning of documents and processing of the application. 

- Over the past few months, there was an issue regarding timely delivery of the passport. Is it taking too much time for police verification?
We release over 2,400 application slots every day, which is enough to meet the demand, and also keeps the waiting period for fresh appointments to just one to two days. But, the police verification process has caught up due to the changes brought in by the Ministry of External Affairs. Until some months ago, the Maharashtra police was among the slowest in the country in terms of completing the verification process, with an average time of 20 days. The police verification has indeed caught up, especially in Pune district. Earlier, in Pune police limits, it used to take 15 days. Now, the time taken for the police report is just seven days. Formation of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissionerate has also helped. Also, they are increasing the number of servers that will speed up the online process. In interior districts and rural areas, the average time is 15 to 17 days.

- What are the most frequently made errors by citizens while filling passport applications?
It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide accurate information. Many times they provide wrong addresses. Most of the time it is done deliberately on the advice of the agents who tell them to write permanent address as the current address, even though the applicant doesn’t stay at the permanent address. Another frequent case of providing false information is hiding a criminal record.

- People are afraid that if they have a criminal proceeding pending against them, they will not get a passport?
This is wrong. Such people have to get permission from the concerned judge, who often allows issuing the passport to be made for one or many years. Errors in writing of the name, spelling is another frequent reason for imposing a penalty. People should know that if they provide false information, they may face problems during police verification. In the Pune region, we collect Rs 1 lakh in penalties every day. 

We want it to come down to zero.

- In the past, one had to produce many documents like date of birth, place of birth, current and permanent address to get a passport?
Passport is a global identity and it’s the right of every individual. A passport provides an individual with the liberty to go anywhere in the world. The role of the passport office is to facilitate the process of a citizen getting his/her passport, which is his/her right. Facilitating a passport and making the process seamless for citizens doesn’t pose any danger to security. We have not got rid of the police verification process. It’s very much there and frauds are caught in that process. 

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