Passport delivery is basic service, says Sushma

New facility: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy at the inauguration of a Passport Seva Kendra in Karaikal on Friday.   | Photo Credit: A_MURALITHARAN

India is now ranked next only to China and the United States in issuing passports in large numbers, after simplification of procedure and ushering in transparency in services, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Friday.

During 2017, 1.32 crore passports were issued, reflecting 19% rise over 2016. The government considered passport delivery a basic statutory service and was committed to delivering passports at doorsteps of people, Ms. Sushma Swaraj said after inaugurating the 60th Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) at Karaikal.

“We are working in close coordination with the Ministry of Communication to make 176 more POPSKs operational at the earliest,” she said. The number of passport offices in the country had increased to 37 from just five in 1955, she added.

Ms. Sushma Swaraj, who began her address by greeting the Chief Minister of Puducherry V. Narayanasamy and others on the dais in Tamil, said she was delighted to inaugurate a post office passport seva kendra at Karaikal for the first time in her capacity as External Affairs Minister. Besides catering to the residents of Karaikal who had to travel 160 km up to Puducherry to apply for passports, the kendra would serve the applicants in surrounding districts also.

Thanking Ms. Swaraj for helping out fishermen in Karaikal by ensuring return of those incarcerated in Sri Lankan prisons and bringing back the confiscated boats, Mr. Narayanasamy urged her to take steps to bring back the remaining fishermen languishing in the island nation's jails. “Fishermen continue to be harassed in mid-sea by Sri Lankan Coast Guard and Navy.”

The Puducherry administration was keen on upgrading the status of Karaikal, he said referring to the start of the National Institute of Technology, Jipmer, Kendriya Vidyalaya and the establishment of Railway Station. The administration would soon provide ample land for establishing a permanent passport seva kendra, Mr. Narayanasamy said.

A group of women from fishermen families met Ms. Swaraj and made a tearful plea seeking her intervention to get their men released from Sri Lankan prisons.

Ten men who had gone fishing on November 28, 2017, had been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy, they complained.

Mr. Narayanasamy later told media persons that a permanent solution for the fishermen issue could be found only through tripartite talks involving the two countries and representatives of fishermen for clear demarcation of maritime boundaries.

Meanwhile, over 20 members of TMMK and VCK were arrested while attempting to show black flags to Ms. Swaraj in protest against the mention of Puducherry BJP president Saminathan's name in the plaque unveiled at Post Office Passport Seva Kendra.

They questioned the practice of inscribing the name of a party functionary for permanent display in a central government office.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:43:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/passport-delivery-is-basic-service-says-sushma/article22478093.ece

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