Bengaluru: The regional passport office here in Karnataka issued a record 2.7 lakh passports in the first five months of this year, generating a revenue of Rs 44 crore, an official said on Wednesday.
"Our target is to issue 6.5 lakh passports this year (2015) as against 5.24 lakh passports in 2014, earning Rs 98 crore," state regional passport officer PS Karthigeyan told reporters.
In a public-private partnership, IT bellwether Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) handles thousands of applications at the front end while staff of the External Affairs Ministry (passport division) processes them at the back end for issuing passports to citizens staying across the state.
"Our regional office delivered a record 21 lakh passports since the country`s first passport centre was set up here in May 2010 and generated Rs.348 crore over the last five years," Karthigeyan said.
Unlike in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have four regional passport offices, Karnataka has only one, with only four seva kendras (service centres), including two in Bengaluru and one each at Hubballi in the northern region and Mangaluru in the coastal region.
"We recently upgraded the passport application processing centre at Kalaburgi (about 650 km from Bengaluru) into a full-fledged service centre to enable citizens living in the four northern districts of Bidar, Raichur, Yadgir and Kalaburgi to complete the formalities, including submission of documents for issuing passports from here," he said.
As the first mission mode project under the national e-governance plan, the passport seva project was piloted and launched from this city in May 2010 by then external affairs minister SM Krishna, who hails from Karnataka.
"We have reduced the waiting period for appointments to one day from the earlier 40-50 days despite staff crunch and growing number of applicants from across the state, with Bengaluru accounting for 50 percent of them," the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) cadre officer said.
Admitting that police verification was a time-consuming process owing to resource constraints in the state police, Karthigeyan said that with incentives and online processing, processing duration has been reduced to 23 days from 43 days in the past.
"Efforts are on to further reduce the police verification to 12 days through incentives and special drives to clear the backlog across the state for general applicants, while such verification is done later for Tatkal applicants," he added.
Of the 37 regional passport offices across India, the Bengaluru regional office is second after Lucknow to issue the highest number of passports, replacing the Hyderabad office, which was separated from its counterpart in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh following bifurcation.