With the deadline for travel agents to stop filing applications for passports falls on January 31, 2012, the Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) in the state are yet to be fully equipped to meet the demand.
From April 1, 2012, all applications for passports have to be submitted to the PSKs for better amenities. The PSK project is being implemented by the External Affairs Ministry across the country with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as the private partner.
It has been decided to open 13 PSKs in Kerala and a soft launch of a centre was held here on Wednesday. However, the travel agents alleged that the facility will not be beneficial to the public unless all the centres are opened by the end of March next year.
Travel Agents Federation of India has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Passport Officer, New Delhi, to ensure that TCS completes the work of the centres on time in Kerala. Federation Kerala chairman Paulose K Mathew said that works on a few centres only had started.
``A skeleton structure is being done in Karingachira, Aluva, Neyyattinkara and Malappuram to a certain extent. As travel agents are given a deadline for submission of application till January 31 and the TCS not in a position to confirm the functioning of the 13 centres, there will be utter chaos and commotion putting the public in a lot of difficulty and suffering,” Paulose K Mathew said.
Unless the authorities are not in a position to ensure that TCS is fully committed to proper functioning, they must allow the travel agents to submit application to respective offices.
The PSKs should be equipped to handle around 5,000 applications a day, which is the present scenario.
According to Paulose around 2,500 applications are submitted to the passport offices through travel agents in the state a day.
As the new system comes into force there should be biometric identification machines to register the fingerprint marks of the applicant which will be stored in the database for security reasons. The PSKs are to receive the applications and forward it to the respective passport officers for processing and delivery.
TCS sources said that all the 13 PSKs would be ready by the end of March next year.