Applicants appear at PSKs on walk-in basis at special melas

The Tiruchi Regional Passport Office will process passport applications from persons set to take up Haj pilgrimage this year on a priority basis and expedite the issue of passports to them, K.Balamurugan, Regional Passport Officer, has said.

“Applications received from prospective Haj pilgrims till March 20 will be handled on a priority basis and we will also request the police authorities to handle the cases separately and issue the police verification reports expeditiously,” Mr.Balamurugan told The Hindu after the special passport melas for Haj pilgrims organised at the Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) in Tiruchi and Thanjavur on Saturday.

The melas were organised given the limited time available for the submission of Haj applications. Applicants were allowed to appear at the PSKs on walk-in basis without prior appointment as is the normal procedure after filing the applications online.

The applicants were required to give a copy of the filled-in Haj application form along with an undertaking that the application is being made for performing Haj 2013.

About 250 applicants participated in the melas at the two PSKs on Saturday. Mr.Balamurugan said that they would be issued passports before March 15, subject to clear police verification reports.

A special Haj Helpdesk has also been set up at Regional Passport Office in Tiruchi and it will function till March 20 for answering queries related to passport applications, status enquiry and grievances of prospective Haj pilgrims. The Regional Passport Office had organised similar melas last year too. However, the number of applicants was relatively lower this time around.

But Mr.Balamurugan pointed out that this could be due to the fact that senior citizens and several other categories of applicants are now allowed to appear on a walk-in basis at the PSKs without having to wait for an appointment.

He indicated that since the opening of the PSKs, the average time taken for issue of passports has come down to 30 days, subject to clear police verification, from the earlier 45 to 65 days. Applicants are issued passports within three days under the tatkal scheme, subject to post-police verification.

Earlier, I.Anwardeen, Conservator of Forests, inaugurated the mela at the Tiruchi PSK and commended the Regional Passport Office for the initiative for the benefit of Haj pilgrims. N.Sathish, District Forest Officer, was present.

Keywords: Haj pilgrims

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