G.S.L. Prasanna of East Godavari district applied for passport in December 2010. Police enquiry was completed on January 12 this year and the Regional Passport Office here received the report. Her efforts to meet the officials concerned did not fructify as she was denied entry. She asked her relative Hari, who stays in the city, to meet the officials on her behalf and pursue her case.

“I came here three or four times and was surprised to find that the office work relating to searching of files and documents was being handled by private security guards on the plea of staff shortage,” says Hari.

‘Nightmare'

A visit to the Passport Office on Mondays or a day following a public holiday is a nightmare for passport seekers. The queue for ‘enquiry' extends on to the road outside the office and visitors have to wait under the blazing sun.

The situation on the first floor, where the applicants have to submit their applications, is hardly any better.

K. Anantalakshmi of Chinnaigudem in West Godavari was seen waiting for her turn in the queue to get her ECNR stamping done. “I had applied for it on May 2 and they said I would receive it in 10 days. I came all the way here since more than two weeks have passed and I haven't received the same,” she said.

There are also complaints of applicants having to forego their sponsored foreign tours due to delays in the issue of passport.

The Passport Office had issued one lakh applications during 2008, 70,000 during 2009, and 77,000 during 2010. The reduction in the number during 2009 was attributed to the decline in passport seekers due to global economic recession.

The Passport Office gets 400 application forms on an average every day. It's learnt that only 200 passports are being issued every day for the last six months.

When his attention was drawn to the problem, Passport Officer V.S.D.L. Surendra denied there was staff shortage. The Ministry had sanctioned four data entry operator posts recently and all of them had been filled. He, however, admitted that the issue of passports was being delayed as one of the two printers had gone out of order in December last year.

“This is resulting in undue delays in the issue of processed passports,” he said and expressed the hope that the problem would be sorted out soon.

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