Passport Office, Coimbatore, has decided to withdraw the walk-in facility for all categories of applicants, except those seeking police clearance certificates and differently-abled.

Talking to The Hindu, Passport Officer S. Sasikumar said that from November 1, 2013 those seeking passports under tatkal or ordinary categories, re-issue of passports, and miscellaneous services will have to apply online and obtain an appointment.

When the Passport Seva Kendra was brought in, there were 14 categories of applications under the online appointment category and five under walk-in facility. Of the applications under the walk-in category, fresh passport applications under tatkal category, for infants below the age of three and senior citizens were now being brought under the category wherein an online appoint was a must.

Mr. Sasikumar said that tatkal applicants were hardly 10 per cent on any given day. From the earlier system of allotting 280 appointments per day, depending on the growing need, the number of appointments gradually increased. Till recently, the number of appointments was 438 per day and it was increased to 500 and taking into account the withdrawal of walk-in facility, the number of appointments was being increased to 525 per day with effect from November 1. Getting an appointment online was now made easy and appointments are available within the next five working days.

Applicants under tatkal category are cleared the same day (provided the application was intact and all documents were enclosed) and the applicant gets the passport very next day. Under ordinary category, passports are issued within 28 days and there were cases of passports reaching within one week to 10 days and it largely depended on the pace of police verification.

About 16 per cent of the applicants were found to be re-scheduling their appointments. Three re-schedules are permitted for an applicant. With the applicants paying the fee online, the time taken for each applicant at the counter while submission of application has considerably come down. This has resulted in the Kendra being able to handle more number of applicants.

With online verification of the genuineness of documents enclosed with applications, the number of cases wherein applicants enclosed forged documents had also come down drastically.

Considering the negligible number of applications received by the District Passport Cells (DPCs) and absence of biometric details recording facility at the cells, already the DPCs have been removed in the Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode.

With effect from November 1, the DPCs are being removed in Salem and Namakkal as well. Salem and Namakkal were handling only 11 and seven applications per day on an average respectively. In fact, absence of biometric details recording facility and also that the applications from DPCs were found to be having inaccuracies and inadequacies, a decision was taken to withdraw the same.

Mr. Sasikumar commenting on delay in issue of passports in certain cases, pointed out that the pace of police verification was one reason and the other major reason was that 12 per cent of the applications on an average are found to be having insufficient details or documents. Many of the applicants were found to be turning up for submission of applications without original documents. This caused delay at the counters and also in the delay of the passports, he added.

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