New Delhi: Amid complaints of delay in
passport issuance, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
on Tuesday exhorted officers to sort out citizens` problems
"promptly" and develop a "good working relationship" with
police to process applications in a speedy manner.
Krishna also told them that their work load would grow
leaps and bounds in the coming years as the number of Indians
travelling abroad for various purposes like education, tourism
and pilgrimage was increasing day-by-day.
He said that still a large number of complaints were
received about harassment of people visiting passport offices
by either officials or by agents, "discourteous behaviour" at
the public interface and difficulties in accessing information
or in meeting with responsible officials.
"These problems should be addressed promptly. I attach
very high importance to prompt, efficient and courteous manner
of delivery of passport services. Passport officers are the
public face of the Ministry of External Affairs," he told the
officers, who have come from across the country.
Noting that there is lot of pendency in passport delivery
services largely due to pending police verifications, he asked
the officers to coordinate and have a "good working
relationship" with police commissioners so that the police
verifications can be expedited.
"I would also like that this pendency be eliminated, at
least in those cases where police verifications have been
received, by the end of the year," Krishna said.
Stressing on the need to improving the public grievance
redressal mechanisms, Krishna said priority should be accorded
to increase accountability within the system so that
grievances and complaints were indeed attended to.
"You must also ensure accessibility to citizens in your
offices in a systematic manner by way of designating an `Open
Day` for addressing the complaints received from the public.
It is important that these services are widely disseminated
for citizens to take maximum advantage," he said.
On Haj pilgrims, Krishna asked the officers to take
measures for opening separate counters for them, hold special
Passport Adalats and liaison with police authorities to obtain
police reports on priority basis.
He also said Passport Adalats should help deal with all
pending old cases.
Calling the Passport Seva Project a success, he said 30
out of 77 such Kendras planned have become operational and
that he would like to see the operationalisation of the
remaining of them by March next year.
In his address, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai asked
passport officers to be prepared to carry out operations like
the one when Indians were evacuated from strife-torn Libya.
"The world is full of troubled spots. We may have
problems in the future. So we need to build an interface to
meet such needs. Passport officers should be equipped to
handle such situations," he said.
On complaints of poor quality of paper used in passports,
he said the MEA has written to the Finance Ministry, which has
assured that an action plan has been put in place to sort out
Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi said the India
Security Press, which prints the documents, has agreed to send
a delegation, if need be, to Canada and other countries to
study the material used by them and the additional security