Mumbai

‘Missing’ Passport Seva Kendra irks Navi Mumbai residents

Where’s the office? The Passport Seva Kendra’s board at the Vashi post office

Where’s the office? The Passport Seva Kendra’s board at the Vashi post office   | Photo Credit: Yogesh Mhatre

Passport office inaugurated by MP not functional; RPO authorities say won’t start till infra is in place

On March 10, hours before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into force, Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare inaugurated the first-ever Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Navi Mumbai on the premises of the Vashi post office, and the news soon went viral. Since then, residents from across Navi Mumbai have been visiting the post office in search of the PSK, only to return disappointed on finding no functional passport office.

‘Political stunt’

Baban Salunkhe, a resident of Vashi, said, “I wanted to renew my passport and I had read the news of the inauguration. Hoping to avoid travelling to Thane, I came here only to find there is no passport office yet. Politicians have been playing with the common man’s emotions.”

Belapur resident Eknath Bhagat said he was looking forward to visiting a brand new, sophisticated passport office. “But when I came here, I found that apart from a board on the building, there is nothing. It now seems to be a political stunt just before the elections,” Mr. Bhagat said.

The Regional Passport Office (RPO), Mumbai, meanwhile, has said it is not aware of any such inauguration. Harish Fulpadia, Deputy Regional Passport Officer, Mumbai, said, “We were not informed of any inauguration. The passport office will start in the vicinity of the post office in Vashi once the infrastructure is ready. The postal department will develop the infrastructure and we will provide the service.”

The RPO website warns applicants that they must have online appointments before visiting any PSK.

Employees from the Vashi post office said that Mr. Vichare had inaugurated the PSK in one of the rooms in the post office. “It was a Sunday and we were urgently asked to reach the post office and remove the chairs kept in the room. That room is used to sort post and parcels from the Sanapada post office. After that day, people have been coming to inquire about the passport office every day. We are fed up of telling them that it has not started yet,” one employee said.

Temporary shed at spot

The post office staff said the space allotted for the PSK is not in the building, but at a spot in the compound that currently houses a temporary shed.

According to post office employees, the PSK will come up in place of a temporary shed in the compound.

According to post office employees, the PSK will come up in place of a temporary shed in the compound.   | Photo Credit: Yogesh Mhatre

“The shed is used to sort parcels, and infrastructure for the PSK will be built here only after the elections,” the employees said. The post office employees want to remove the PSK board that has been put up, but are afraid of political backlash.

MP adamant

Mr. Vichare, meanwhile, said the PSK will start before April-end. “People also know it. The room is already there, only chairs and other furniture need to be put. The passport office is fully computerised so once the furniture is put up, the passport department will come with the staff and computers,” the MP said.

When asked about the RPO saying that there is no infrastructure yet and it had not been informed of the inauguration, Mr. Vichare said, “Those people do not know anything. The office will start functioning this month.”

In June 2017, former Thane NCP MP Sanjeev Naik had said an independent PSK in Navi Mumbai had been approved by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. It will be part of the second phase of the government’s policy of starting Post Office Passport Seva Kendra across the country.

Currently, Navi Mumbai residents have to travel to the Thane PSK.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:21:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/missing-psk-irks-navi-mumbai-residents/article26751393.ece

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