My colleague in the Ministry, Minister of State Shri V. Muraleedharan ji,
Secretary (CPV & OIA) Shri Sanjay Bhattacharya,
Additional Secretary (PSP) & Chief Passport Officer Shri Prabhat Kumar,
Dear Colleagues in CPO and other parts of MEA, Ladies & Gentlemen,
As we gather here to mark the Passport Seva Divas, let me first of all express my deep appreciation for the way Passport Offices continued to deliver passport services at a high standard during the pandemic period especially during its second wave.
My compliments to each and every member of the Passport Offices (PO), Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) and all partners of Passport Seva Programme, including the Department of Posts, India Security Press at Nashik, State Police authorities, our Service Provider M/s TCS, and others for their dedication in rendering passport and related services collectively to our citizens, despite the challenges and restrictions posed by the continuing pandemic nationally and globally.
Some of our colleagues in the Central Passport Organization lost their battle against Covid. I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to their families and friends. It has indeed been a very difficult period for all of us. Some colleagues were sick and have now recovered and re-joined work. I applaud their spirit. We also appreciate the initiatives by various Passport Offices in getting their personnel and families vaccinated in accordance with Government guidelines.
Now, Appreciating your dedication and determination for rendering the passport and related service even in the face of adversity, I would like to felicitate all our Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad and each one of you present here. We have all worked together over the past year in substantially improving the passport delivery mechanism and services in the country for the benefit of our citizens.
The mandate of our Government is to ensure efficient governance and timely, effective, assured, transparent and accountable public service delivery. As we move ahead on the path of progress, we should take stock of the steps in the realm of passports that would make it not only more citizen-centric but also citizen-friendly.
Towards this end, our first approach was to bring in simplification of the passport rules and processes. However, as the process is dynamic, we should continue to look deeper and deliberate further on reducing the compliance burden on our citizens.
The Ministry also made concerted efforts, in close collaboration with the Department of Posts, to further strengthen the outreach of passport services to the citizens by establishing Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) all across the country. This endeavour has resulted in expanding network of Post Office Passport Seva Kendras across the length and breadth of this country. Last year, owing to pandemic situation, we could set up two POPSK – one at Seoni in Madhya Pradesh and another one in Port Blair.
I would like to obviously convey our sincere gratitude to the Department of Posts under the leadership of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad ji. We are an example for synergy between Ministries of the Government in delivering services to the common people.
The Ministry of External Affairs has leveraged the use of technology and digital systems into its functioning, including, I would say especially, in delivering passport services.
Our continuing consolidation and expansion of Passport services has ensured that there is a Passport Kendra in 489 Lok Sabha Constituencies in the country. We hope to establish a Passport Kendra in the remaining 54, in collaboration with our partners, to further strengthen the outreach of our passport services to our citizens. As you know, we currently have a network of 555 Passport Kendras in India, including 36 Passport Offices, 93 Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) and 426 Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK).
It is also noteworthy that two ‘All Women Passport Seva Kendra’ became operational at Delhi and Cochin, marking the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021 and extending passport services exclusively to our sisters, daughters and mothers.
I am happy that continuing with our global outreach exercise, the Ministry has integrated 174 Indian Embassies and Consulates abroad with the Passport Seva Programme enabling a centralized passport issuance system for our citizens in India and Diaspora abroad. We should complete the Mission integration process on priority, including in new Missions and Posts abroad.
Apply from Anywhere for Passport scheme and the mPassport Seva App, available on both Android/iOS platforms, launched in July 2016, continue to provide ease of submission of application at any Passport Kendra across the country, irrespective of residential jurisdiction.
In February this year, the Ministry integrated the Passport Seva Programme with DigiLocker bringing about a major digital transformation in delivery of Passport services. This has enabled citizens to submit various documents for obtaining Passport services through DigiLocker in a paperless mode. They are not required to carry the original documents. I am confident that integration with Aadhaar currently underway will further enhance and ease the passport issuance process. This process should be expedited for completion at an early date.
The continued expansion of mPassport Police App, launched by the Ministry in 2016, which has been now integrated with 334 Police Districts and 7142 Police Stations in 19 States and Union Territories has led to expeditious Police Verification process and strengthening the passport delivery ecosystem. The Passport Officers should make concerted efforts with the remaining State Police Authorities encouraging them to adopt mPassport Police App to reduce time taken in Police Verification process.
The State Police Authorities play a significant role in the timely delivery of passports. The time taken for police verification has been coming down over the years. And as MoS noted, despite the pandemic situation, the state police authorities have maintained a good average time for rendering police verification. The performance of police authorities in States like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh & Telangana have been exemplary and I would like to congratulate the Police authorities of these four States to whom we would be conferring a ‘Certificate of Recognition’ for their outstanding performance last year.
I would like to compliment the India Security Press (ISP), Nashik for their consistent support and efforts in enhancing the features of the passport booklets and other travel documents as also the manufacture of e-Passports which are currently undergoing various tests. I would urge all related organizations to strengthen their efforts for launch at an early date of e-Passports in the country.
The Passport Seva Programme (PSP) has successfully completed a decade in service of our citizens. Annually, over 1 crore passports have been issued during three consecutive years till 2019. Despite the pandemic, we continued to deliver passports in a timely manner and hope to reach pre-pandemic levels as soon as possible.
This would not have been possible without the diligence and dedication of the officials of the Central Passport Organization and partners of the PSP and I appreciate very deeply your services. Your efforts have enabled us to re-open most of the Passport Kendras after the second wave to enable the applicants to get a passport.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to the winners of Passport Seva Puraskar and hope that they would continue to serve the public with even more zeal and dedication. I am looking forward to personally handing over these awards at a future date during the Passport Officers’ Conference which we hope again would take place sometimes in near future.
I also commend the Passport Offices in promoting the use of official language as per the directives of the Government.
Once again, I would like to emphasize on the word ‘Seva’ as contained in the ‘Passport Seva Project’. The attributes of being responsive, caring, considerate, and transparent are necessary for every ‘Sevak’. The inspirational words "Passport – Sudhaar, Vistaar aur Aapke Dwar” should be our guiding star for the years ahead. It summarizes what we are doing today and where we intend to go tomorrow. Empowered by technology and by your collective experiences, I am sure that all of you will gear to work relentlessly towards fulfilling our commitments to the public, to the nation in delivering passport and its related services.