By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow, Feb 17 : ‘Acche din’ appear to have finally arrived for passport seekers in Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow has issued the highest number of passports among all cities in the country so far in fiscal 2015-16.
With 13.37 lakh new passports issued in the state, India’s most populous, 9.48 lakh are from the capital, a record of sorts, according to officials of the Regional Passport Office (RPO) here.
Major headway has been made over the year in clearing backlogs and reducing the time taken to give necessary clearances, including police verification and appointments for interviews.
Passport ‘melas’ ordered by the ministry of external affairs have been a great help, officials said.
Hasan Warsi, an Aligarh Muslim University student and a resident of Lucknow, says he had to go to Dubai for a college education programme and he got his passport “in a jiffy”.
“I had heard so much negative things about the passport process and delays but was pleasantly surprised by the promptness,” Warsi told IANS.
R.N. Rai, the Regional Passport Officer, said police had been a major help as more than 90 percent verification of passport applicants was completed within two weeks, thereby expediting an otherwise long and often much criticized process.
“Credit must go to police who fast-tracked the whole process,” Rai added.
Of the 13.37 lakh passports made in Uttar Pradesh, police verification of 12 lakh was done within the stipulated 21 days, thus prompting early dispatch and delivery of the passports.
And police seem to have earned not only praise but moolah too.
The external affairs ministry gives Rs.150 for each passport verification. This has turned into a windfall for the Uttar Pradesh Police in the current fiscal when it raked in Rs.19 crore, another record.
The earning for police earlier averaged Rs.6-7 crore.
Bareilly and Ghaziabad passport offices have chipped in with 3.89 lakh passports. Special work is on at the passport offices in Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Varanasi so that they do not lag behind, an official said.
Lucknow has also the topped the regional passport offices across the country in issuing most passports in the current fiscal.
Hyderabad is second at 7.60 lakh passports and Bengaluru third with 6.33 lakh. They are followed by Kolkata (6.13 lakh), Ahmedabad (5.66 lakh) and Delhi (5.06 lakh).
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)