By Regional Passport Office since inception

What was once an ordeal, with people queuing up since 4 a.m. to submit applications and instances of occasional police intervention to regulate crowds, has now become hassle-free. Getting a passport in Madurai is so easy in the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), thanks to trained manpower and technology. From December 2007, when the Ministry of External Affairs created a Regional Passport Office here by bifurcating the Tiruchi office, the process of issuing passports has become easier by the year.

Today, as per the latest data available with the Regional Passport Officer, S. Maniswara Raja, 7.77 lakh fresh passports have been issued from 2007 to November 30, 2013. The RPO has also handled a little over 60,000 miscellaneous services, which include ECNR (emigration check not required) and PCC (police clearance certificate).

The Madurai Region caters to residents of Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts. The Passport Seva Kendras in Madurai and Tirunelveli have recorded a sizeable increase in the volume of applications processed. For many old passport holders (who had obtained the booklet a decade back), the state-of-the-art PSK is a dream come true.

“In those days, it used to be troublesome as we had to travel to Tiruchi to get passports. Sometimes, we had to rely on promises made by touts. Even when the RPO was started here six years back, long queues were a common scene on Race Course Road,” says V. Jaiganesh, a bullion merchant and resident of Surya Nagar.

The application of online technology in police verification and better coordination between police and passport officials have reduced the time taken to process an application considerably, feels Vijaya of Ellis Nagar.

Sharing her view, a young graduate says, “I applied for passport when I was in my final year engineering course. The booklet reached my home in about a month’s time. This has enabled me to fly to Singapore early January next with ease for employment.”

Applicants, who could not produce valid documents, did face problems in the past. Crackdown on the racket of getting fake birth certificate/transfer certificates and ration cards in a few southern districts a few years back has had a telling effect.

The public are also educated about the right means to obtain a passport. Education of applicants, crackdown on those issuing illegal certificates and application of technology have ensured that the process is people-friendly.