New Delhi: From next month, people in select cities will be able to apply for passports in post offices under an ambitious initiative of the External Affairs Ministry.
This is aimed at making the passport issuance process hassle-free and ease burden on passport offices across the country which are grappling with large volume of applications.
In the first phase of the project, passport services will be made available in select post offices in Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jharkhand and some other states.
The External Affairs Ministry, which issues passports, is making all required arrangements for rollout of the scheme in some of the select cities in first half of March.
Currently, 89 Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) are operating across the country as extended arms of the 38 Passport Offices.
According to the MEA, the government rendered 1.15 crore passport and other related services during 2016.
In Rajasthan, passport services will be available in Kota, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jhunjhunu and Jhalawar while in West Bengal it will be in Asansol, Nadia, North Dinajpur North Kolkata.
In Jharkhand, services will be offered in Deoghar, Jamshedpur and Dhandbad.
"It is our effort that Post Office Passport Sewa Kendras announced in the first phase should start functioning before 31.3.2017," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
In Tamil Nadu, passport services in post office will be rolled out in Salem and Vellore while in Karnataka, it will be in Belgaum, Davangere, Hassan, Gulbarga and Mysuru.
According to MEA, the objective of the government has been to cater to the demand for passports and to reach out to the people located far away from the passport offices.
The MEA had recently liberalised norms for certain categories of citizens as part of efforts to streamline the passport issuance process.