New York: The Indian government plans to open a 'Passport Seva Kendra' in each of the 543 parliamentary constituencies across the country by March next year to ensure convenient passport services to its people, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said here.
The government is trying to ensure that Indian citizens do not face any difficulty in obtaining their passports whether in India or abroad, he said as he launched the 'Passport Seva' programme at India's Consulate here on Wednesday.
The 'Passport Seva' programme has brought in a huge transformation towards delivery of passport services in India, Singh said while handing over passports to a few Indian citizens who had used the new programme to renew their passports.
"This project will ensure better services for our citizens abroad. It is a service which is truly meant for citizens," he said at the global launch of the programme here.
The new system will ensure an easy and convenient application submission process, usher-in standardisation, digital overhauling, end-to-end status tracking and enhance security, the minister said.
The government plans to have a 'Passport Seva Kendra' in each of the 543 parliamentary constituencies across the country by March, 2019 to ensure convenient passport services to its citizens, he said.
"We plan to have a Passport Kendra in each head post office (in India) so that any citizen doesn't have to travel beyond 50-60 km for his or her passport services," Singh said.
The year 2017 registered a 19 per cent growth in passport related services. The monthly submission of applications has crossed one million mark for the first time and more than six crore passports have been issued through the 'Pasport Seva' system, the minister said.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has taken several measures to improve the passport service delivery experience, including by simplifying several passport rules and doing away with cumbersome requirements that delayed the process and led to unnecessary hurdles, he said.
The MEA with the Department of Posts took the decision to start 'Passport Seva Kendars' in head post offices.
As a result, 236 'Post Office Passport Seva Kendras' (POPSKs) have been operationalised to date and many more are in the pipeline. This, when added to 36 passport offices and 93 erstwhile 'Passport Seva Kendras', makes a total of 365 passport offices for public.
The MEA has also initiated the integration of 'Passport Seva Programme' at all Indian Embassies and Consulates across the globe.
The MEA has successfully initiated a pilot project at the High Commission of India in London followed by the Consulate General of India in Birmingham and Edinburgh.
After launching the global 'Passport Seva' programme at the Consulate General of India in New York for the Indian diaspora, the MEA will launch the programme at the Indian Embassy in Washington followed by the Consulate in Atlanta.
It aims to operationalise all Embassy/Consulates in the US during the course of next 15 days.
The Indian government plans to roll out the global 'Passport Seva' programme at all Embassies/Consulates within the next three to four months, a move that will ensure that "our 'Passport Seva' globally is inter-linked and centrally controlled," Singh added.