The new Passport Seva Kendras in the State under the Passport Seva Project of the Ministry of External Affairs will begin functioning by mid-March, Union Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal has said. Talking to reporters here on Sunday after visiting the upcoming Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) here, Mr. Venugopal said the PSKs would be launched by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna at Ernakulam in the second week of March, after which the 13 PSKs in the State would be functional, enabling the process of issuing new and renewed passports wider reach and speed.

Kerala had been allocated the highest number of PSKs, 13 out of 77 across the country, which were being readied by Tata Consultancy Services. The PSKs in the State, which would function under the four Regional Passport Offices (RPO) at Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode, were two at Thiruvananthapuram and one each at Neyyatinkara, Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Alwaye, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram, Vadakara, Kannur and Payyanur, the Minister said.

The Alappuzha PSK would function under the Ernakulam RPO, which now had 15 per cent of the total passport applications coming from Alappuzha. And from Alappuzha, more than 20 per cent of the applications were under the Tatkal scheme, which meant the upcoming PSK here would make a huge difference both in the functioning of the Ernakulam RPO, easing its burden, apart from making affairs much easier for the public. The PSK was capable of processing up to 400 applications a day, after which the same would be forwarded to the RPO for approval and issuance of the passport.

While the time-limit for Tatkal passports was expected to come down to less than four days instead of the present seven days, normal passports could be dispatched in less than 20 days instead of the existing 25-30 day delay, all these without any extra charges on the applicant, Mr. Venugopal, who was accompanied by G. Sudhakaran, MLA, during the visit, said.

Karthik Subramanyam, TCS Regional Head (Operations), Lijo Mannaraprayil, Regional Head (Build), and Dilip P., Cluster Head (Operations) and officials from the Ernakulam RPO were also present.

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