Regional office to issue 3 lakh passports this year

Special Correspondent

Special initiative to clear backlog of applications

TIRUCHI: Issue of fresh passports at the Tiruchi Regional Passport Office is expected to touch a record high of three lakh this year as the authorities have embarked on a special initiative to clear the backlog of applications.

The Passport Office, which caters to 15 central and southern districts, has issued 2.70 lakh passports between January and November this year. The Passport Office had received about 2.10 lakh applications during the same period. Authorities are working overtime to clear the huge backlog reportedly caused by a short supply of Passport booklets earlier this year. The initiative seems to have achieved the desired results already - the office has issue as many as 90,500 passports over the past three months between September and November.

"We have introduced a shift system and working towards reducing the average time taken for issue of a passport to six weeks by end of December," the Regional Passport Officer, K.S.Daulat Thameem told The Hindu. Currently, the average time taken for issue of passports, from the time of submission of application, has been brought down to around 65-70 days. A few months back it was 90 to 100 days.

By crossing the three lakh mark, the Tiruchi office is likely to emerge on top among the Passport Offices in South India in terms of the number of passports issued. The passport office, on an average, receives about 1,500 applications every day and the authorities are now working towards issuing at least 1,000 passports a day.

Though a large number of Post Offices have been designated as a passport application receiving centres, in an attempt to reduce the rush at the Regional office, public patronage of these centres has been rather disappointing, officials said. A majority of the applicants prefer to submit their applications directly at the Regional Office due to a `popular misconception' that going through the Post Offices or district passport cells would result in a delay in the issue of passports. Meanwhile, the Passport Office has also planned to improve on its online registration facility.As of now, passports have been issued for all eligible applications submitted till September 15, 2006. Those who have submitted applications prior to this date but have not received any intimation so far have been advised to contact the office either in person or over the phone at 2707203/2707404/2707011/2708225. They could also get in touch with the office through e-mail at >rpo.trichy@mea.gov.in or >rpotry@sify.com. Applicants could also ascertain the status of their application through the tele-enquiry system at 2707941/2707942.