68 passport facilitation centres soon: Ahamed

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Staff Reporter

To cater to the growing number of applicants for passport

Two PFCs to be opened in pilot phase of project

Two Regional Passport Offices to be opened in Tamil Nadu

KANNUR: Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said here on Thursday that 68 Passport Facilitation Centres (PFC) would be opened across the country in view of the increase in the number of passport applicants.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Ahamed said the Cabinet had approved the proposal for opening of PFCs throughout the country to cater to the growing number of applicants for passport.

He said the PFC was envisaged as a centre where the front-end of the passport application procedures such as filing of application forms, scrutiny, photo scanning and remittance of fee could be done. The scheme would be outsourced to people who were prepared to run the PFCs, he said adding that they should set up locations and infrastructural facilities.

Mr. Ahamed said the PFCs would also have facilities to capture biometric features of applicants for the implementation of e-passports, which were being processed separately.

“The scheme will be implemented over a period of 19 months in a phased manner,” he said.

Two PFCs would be started in the pilot phase of the project so that the functioning of the new system could be observed.

It would then be extended to other areas after ensuring the success of the pilot scheme, Mr. Ahamed said.

The Minister said there was growth in passport demand by 132.26 per cent during 1996-2006 as against 25.41 per cent growth of staff of the Regional Passport Offices (RPO) in the country during the period.

Mr. Ahamed also announced that the Government proposed to open two RPOs in Tamil Nadu — Madurai and Coimbatore.

Pat for Karunanidhi

The Minister said the Tamil Nadu Government’s Ordinance granting special sub-quota for Muslims and Christians showed Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s sympathetic consideration of the minority communities.




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