No end to applicants’ wait for passport appointments
Even after demonstrations and protests against the passport officials by local politicians and applicants, the pendency of appointment is still not reduced. The applicants have to wait for more than three months to get appointment for the passport services. The delay in appointment reportedly leads to corrupt practices. In January, Member of Parliament Gurjeet Singh Aujla staged a demonstration alleging that passport office has become an epicentre of corruption.
The Regional Passport Office at Amritsar accommodates around 1,300 applicants daily. Generally, it opens for five days in a week. The passport officials claimed that it is maximum capacity of passport office with the staff and infrastructure provided to them.
The number of applicants has been increased after Covid-19. Most of the applicants are students, who aspire for the study abroad. Pendency in the appointment irks the applicants as they have to wait several months to get passport to even apply for the English language test.
“I have applied for the appointment in February and got appointment in May. One of my relatives from Mukatsar applied in Tatkal and got appointment. They have three passport applications in family. All three got different days for appointment. They have to stay in the city for three days which is unwanted burden on them,” said an attendant came along with applicant at the passport office.
However, the passport officials claimed that the passport office at Amritsar has witnessed high number of applicants for seeking passport services. The officials claimed that to deal with the rising demand for passports, the staff works on Saturdays and Sundays to process extra appointments.
“The efforts are being made to reduce the unavailability period in the appointment cycle. Dedicated workforce is deployed with special focus to clear pendency. The appointments and processing of passport is totally transparent. We accommodate the persons with some kind of urgency especially in the case of students and elderly persons. We give priority to the applicants come from far-flung areas, senior citizens, minors, pregnant women, specially abled applicants, students, job seekers and pilgrims,” said passport official.