Holding out the promise of speedier and transparent services to the increasing number of passport applicants, the city's first Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) will begin its operations in the coming week. The new PSK at Vazhuthacaud will be the 31 centre of the Passport Seva project which is being implemented under the National e-Governance Plan by software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

In an interview with The Hindu on Wednesday ahead of the PSK's ‘soft launch,' Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president and head of Government Industry Solutions Unit, TCS, said a major feature of the PSK would be that an applicant would know on his very first visit whether he would be given passport.

The applicant must first log on to www.passportindia.gov.in, register, and submit the application form and documents online. Then, an online appointment can be scheduled with the Kendra.

At the Kendra, a help desk will assist the applicant to recheck the documents (original and photocopies) and a database entry is made. Following this, the applicant will be assisted in the verification procedures and fee collection.

At the PSK's ‘A' counters, the applicant's photograph would be taken and a biometric scan done. Then there will be verification by government officials at the ‘B' and ‘C' counters. At the final stage, the applicant will be told whether he would be given a passport or not. A national call centre — with telephone number 1800-258-1800 — is already operating in tandem with the PSK centres in other parts of the country.

Another advantage of the system is that the applicant can track the progress of his application through the portal.

According to Mr. Chakrabarty, the project will reduce the workload of officials at passport offices since they would be mainly playing a supervisory role. The PSK system would be integrated with police verification unit