Mysuru: The Passport Seva Kendra at Metagalli in Mysuru that was opened with much fanfare has turned out to be a mere application and document despatch centre. It has powers to just collect application forms from people and send it to Regional Passport Office in Bengaluru where it is processed. Once the application is filed and documents are submitted, people are forced to go to Bengaluru as the Mysuru Passport Seva Kendra will have no information whatsoever.
Star of Mysore went on a reality check after a lady complained that she could not get any response from city Passport Office for two months and when she went to Bengaluru, the job was done in three days.
Following pressure from the public for a Passport Office in Mysuru that attracts over 30 lakh tourists annually one of the country’s first Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK) was established at the Metagalli Post Office and it began operations on January 25.
The Passport Seva Kendra was named POPSK because the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) tied up with the Postal Department to offer passport-related services through a network of Post Offices. It was the pilot project of MEA with Mysuru being the first to launch the service that was inaugurated by Union Minister H.N. Ananthkumar. A similar service was launched on the same day at Dahod in Gujarat.
At the time of inauguration, it was revealed to media that the POPSK will function like any other Passport Seva Kendra in the country where the applicant’s biometrics and photographs would be taken, documents verified, and a decision on granting the Passport would be taken. Officials had told that except printing and dispatch of Passports, the POPSK will carry out all other operations and facilitate speedy Passport issuance by sending it to Bengaluru.
At the Mysuru POPSK, there are six Passport Officials who work along with six Postal Department employees. Once the applications are filed online and registered, the Bengaluru Regional Passport Office sends 130 applications per day to the Mysuru POPSK for document verification. Officials in Mysuru have powers only to collect and examine the documents. They have no powers to either accept or reject the not-in-order applications. This process is done by the Bengaluru office.
Several Mysureans told Star of Mysore that they had huge expectations from the Mysuru Passport Office. “When the long-pending Passport Office was opened, we were happy and were hoping to get our Passports within 25 days as it was promised at the time of launch. Only now we realise that this is a mere despatch centre and whenever we come here, the officials ask us to go to Bengaluru,” said a resident who is waiting for her Passport since two months.
“If all the process is in Bengaluru, what is the need for me to go to Mysuru POPSK,” she questioned.
When SOM approached the Passport Officials functioning from the Metagalli Post Office, they said that they have limited scope of work. “We just despatch applications after collecting documents. People have to approach the Guaranteeing Officer at the Bengaluru Office if there is a delay in Passport issuance and if there is any other problem,” Officials said.
On the despatching front, from the day the POPSK was launched, the Mysuru Office, on an average, received 120 to 130 applications every day and all of them have been set to Bengaluru after collecting documents. “None of the applications have been rejected in Mysuru as we don’t have rejecting powers. The applications are verified in Bengaluru by the Guaranteeing Officer and section heads, Officials added.
Surprisingly, officials at Mysuru POPSK have no information even about the number of Passports issued in Mysuru from January 25 till date and they also don’t have information on the number of applications accepted or rejected.
One more person who was waiting at the Mysuru POPSK told SOM, “To know the status of my Passport application, these officials gave me the telephone number (080-25706125) of Bengaluru Office. The person who received my call gave me another number of Guaranteeing Officer (080-25706110) and nobody picks up the phone there and I have tried calling more than 10 times.”
MP PRATAP SIMHA REACTS
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Mysuru-Kodagu Member of Parliament Pratap Simha, who was instrumental in bringing the Post Office Passport Seva Kendra to Mysuru, said that earlier there was a situation where Mysureans had to go to Bengaluru even for submission of documents to support their applications.
“Mysuru Kendra has saved a lot of time and money. Due to some technical issues, the process of Passport Guaranteeing is being delayed. I have already spoken to authorities in Bengaluru and they will speed up the process within a month. After that, the Passport issuance process will be streamlined,” the MP said.