They find the online payment system to book slots of little help as they are not able to access the web page

The launch of online payment system for booking slots by passport applicants nearly two months ago has not ended the woes of applicants in obtaining the slots.

In the past, there used to be a number of complaints from applicants on non-availability of appointments under the online booking system for slots. After a review of the operations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had found out that some applicants were not turning up at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) despite taking valid appointments, thereby denying appointments to others.

The objective of launching the online payment system was to discourage non-serious applicants from booking slots and not showing up at the PSK.

Under the new system, the applicant has to pay the requisite fee at the time of booking online slot through credit or debit card or Internet Banking service of the State Bank of India. Applicants are also given the facility of using the ‘challan option’ provided on the website ( www. passportindia.gov.in ) and deposit the money in the SBI branch after generating challan online.

The practice of the applicant choosing the date and time of appointment has been done away with under the new system. An applicant would now be given the earliest available appointment by the system based on the date chosen by him/her.

The online payment system in Visakhapatnam was launched on June 7.

Applicants are now complaining that though the time for booking the slot and online payment is 5.30 p.m. every day, they are not able to access the web page.

“The slots are already booked up to September. Initially, the booking of slots under the new system used to be open round the clock. But the booking cycle has been reduced to once a day,” Passport Officer A.T. Murthy told The Hindu when the problem was brought to his notice. “As many as 350 slots can be booked online each day. Once the 350 are exhausted, no more slots will be accepted as the booking cycle is reduced to once a day. The applicant can again try for a slot at 5.30 p.m. the following day,” he said.

“The Application Reference Number (ARN) sheet can, however, be generated all through the day. The applicant has to fill in all the details and be ready with the ARN by 5.30 p.m. so that once he/she logs in with the number, the details will automatically appear on the screen and he can straightaway make the payment and book the earliest available slot. The ARN generated will be valid up to 90 days.”

“The appointment date booked can be changed for a maximum of three times in a year. While fresh applicants, re-issue, and lost passport applicants have to invariably book their appointment online, others under nine categories can walk into the PSK,” Mr. Murthy said.

Manual appointments are being restricted to a maximum of 10 in a day based on emergency.

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