The very first step in applying for a passport in Kolkata can involve an agonising wait in front of the computer screen for an appointment at the Regional Passport Office. After changeover to the online application system users have now familiarised themselves with the process, but there are too many applicants and not enough officials.
“ We process about 1,050 applications at the Kolkata office every day, an additional 350 at the office at Berhampore, and about 100 applications are accepted manually,” Regional Passport Officer R. Shivkumar said.
To ease the pressure, two mini-passport seva kendras (PSKs) were set up. But the infrastructure remains inadequate. “Five mini-PSKs have been sanctioned, and we certainly hope we will be able to process more forms daily,” Mr. Shivkumar said. Users acknowledge that once an appointment has been granted, the process of submitting and scrutinising the forms at the passport office is smooth.
“But once the form has been sent for police verification, it is anyone’s guess when the passport will arrive,” said an employee of a travel agency.
The police verification is the second bottleneck. Mr. Shivkumar said that for the areas under Kolkata Police, the verification is done well within two months. But for the districts, the wait is longer.