Printer problem and shortage of staff delaying work, says Passport Officer

Utter chaos prevailed at the old Passport Office on Wednesday morning as hundreds of applicants held up the traffic on New Colony Main Road in protest against the undue delay in the issue of passports. They burnt old tyres and raised slogans against the officials.

The applicants came from Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari districts that fall under the purview of the Regional Passport Office to attend the adalat that was held after a long gap. The Passport office staff, however, took their representations and asked them to come at a later date as the office was in the process of shifting to the new premises constructed at Marripalem VUDA Layout.

This angered the applicants as they came from far-off places. They insisted on meeting the officials and as they were denied permission, they blocked traffic and burnt tyres to express their resentment. The situation was brought under control by the police.

The police mediated and arranged to send some of the applicants into the office. On going into the office, the applicants found that the Passport Officer was not available. The staff explained the situation and accepted their grievances but the applicants insisted on meeting the officials. They were finally sent out by the police.

“We are in the process of shifting to the new premises. Today (Thursday) is the last day on which the lease of the old office building (New Colony) expires and there was no other option left for us. We had accepted the grievances and asked the applicants to come at a later day. We also told them of the problem of printer and shortage of staff,” Passport Officer VSDL Surendra said.

Broker arrested

He expressed the view that the applicants were instigated by brokers from other districts.

One broker was taken into custody by the police on Wednesday.

He was optimistic that the External Affairs Ministry would respond to Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari's letter in this regard and sanction an additional printer and staff for the Regional Passport Office.

Once that was done, 85 per cent of the 39,000 pending applications could be cleared in two months, he said.

Reacting to allegations of corruption against the Passport Office, Mr. Surendra appealed to the public to inform the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on phone no. (0891) 2783322, if they came across corruption either at the Passport Office or at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), and help the officials in bringing the culprits to book.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Union Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna, Ms. Purandeswari sought the sanction of two ‘Granting Officers' and an additional printer to the Passport Office at an early date to the tide over the problems.