by Elton Gomes
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj launched a new scheme in which a person can apply for a passport from anywhere in India, regardless of their place of residence. In addition, Swaraj launched a mobile app with facilities for applying, paying, and scheduling appointments for acquiring a passport.
The new scheme was launched on the occasion of the Sixth Passport Seva Divas. Under the scheme, an individual can select the Regional Passport Office (RPO) and the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) to submit his/her application.
According to an official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MoEA), the application can be submitted regardless of whether the applicant’s current residential address is within the jurisdiction of the selected RPO or not. Regarding police verification, the statement mentioned that it would be conducted at the address specified in the application form.
The statement added that the passport will be printed and dispatched by the RPO selected by the applicant for submission. It will be printed and dispatched to the address mentioned in the application.
The new initiative is aimed at easing citizens’ woes. For example, a resident of Jaipur, who is temporarily residing in Kolkata, can apply at a PSK or POPSK under Kolkata’s RPO. They will no longer have to travel to Jaipur to apply at the RPO in Jaipur. Applicants can follow these steps to apply for an ordinary passport under the new scheme.
Swaraj’s “passport revolution”
Addressing officials of several Passport Seva Kendras and members of the MoEA on Tuesday, Swaraj expressed confidence that the new schemes would ease the procedure to obtain a passport. “I found that two things which were directly connected to the Indian citizens were a passport and visas required for undertaking Haj pilgrimage,” Swaraj told news agency ANI.
In 2017, the government aimed to have a passport centre at every 50 kilometres and had announced the opening of 149 new post office passport kendras.
In addition to this, as per a 2017 report by the Financial Express, physical police verification was slated to go online. It was reported that the government planned to link police verification with a robust national database of crimes and criminals that would assess applicants’ details at the click of a mouse. Furthermore, as part of its simplification drive, the government allowed submission of several new documents as proof of date of birth.