To the Ministry of External Affairs,
We have been trying to contact you through Speed Post, email and a networking site (Twitter) but since you prefer not to respond to our queries, thought will address all of you here. What I am going to describe is perhaps the most horrifying experience that citizens need to suffer to get a passport, a document I am entitled to in all respect. We have been trying to renew our passports through the Tatkal Scheme via the Hyderabad RPO but thanks to the efficiency of the system, even after a week we are nowhere.
Please explain to us what is the procedure at the Hyderabad RPO and why does it contradict with the information provided on the site. My friends have been asking me why I have not applied online as it seems to be a breeze in their respective cities. I don't know what to tell them. We did exactly what your Passport site tells us to do. We applied online, got an online token and was at the RPO in Hyderabad much before the stipulated time on Monday, 25 April only to find a huge queue for Tatkal applicants. On further enquiry, we found out that online tokens are not accepted in the Hyderabad RPO and people queue up for days to get a manual token.
We were approached by several local touts who claimed that they can get us past the cops into the hallowed precinct of the passport office for 4000 - 8000 rupees per person. Not willing to pay a bribe, we came back empty handed that day. The only other option was to stand in the queue so we went back at 2:00 AM the following night and waited for the passport gate to open at 9:30 AM. There were over 500 people in the queue and the passport office allows anywhere between 75 to 200 people everyday from the queue and the rest have to wait for their turn the next day even if they have to continue waiting for 48 hrs at a stretch. If they leave the queue and go home, they will again be relegated to the back of the queue so it is a hopeless situation. That day the office opened at 9:30 AM as usual for barely an hour and allowed around 50-60 people in before the cops came over at 10:30 smirking and happily telling the waiting crowd that the day's quota is over.
1. Why do I have to stand in a queue for such ridiculous hours in the open to get my own passport renewed?
2. Why are citizens harassed and treated like criminals at the passport office, both by officials and cops?
3. Why can't the passport office employ additional employees to meet the high volume of Tatkal applications?
4. Why should the local passport officer be given so much discretionary power that allows him/her to blatantly create processes that overlooks basic tenets of civilized dignity?
5. Why do they not allot dates so that people don’t have to wait for days for lady luck to strike and get an entry into your esteemed RPO?
Also, the RPO supposedly has to issue 300 tokens a day. However, after a 9 hour wait from 2 AM till 11 AM your office finally opens at 9:30 AM and closes at 10:30 AM allowing around 50-60 people in.
1. What are the number of tokens that should be issued and if the number is 300 tokens, what happens to the remaining tokens?
2. What are the actual working hours of the Hyderabad RPO when applications can be accepted? Is it only one hour?
3. How do you monitor the timings and productivity of the passport officials? Is there a register to keep track of the number of hours they put in and is there a minimum number of applications that they can each individually process?
According to this Times of India report, online tokens were stopped as the passport office website for Hyderabad was hacked into by agents. The article is attached here for your reference: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-06-05/hyderabad/28299734_1_passport-agents-tatkal-applications.
Now please let us know:
1. Why are agents and bureaucrats being given the chance to misuse the system?
2. Why is nothing being done to stop this nexus between agents and the officials inside?
3. Why should we pay a bribe for a passport that we are entitled to as citizens of this country?
4. In every other city, the Tatkal scheme seems to work. Why is this scheme so difficult for the people of the twin cities?
5. Why are citizens being harassed due to the misuse of the system by agents?
Would really appreciate if you can address this pathetic bureaucratic high handedness and mismanagement.
Another question my friends have been asking is why am I not submitting Tatkal application through e-Seva. Now Ministry of External Affairs, please explain why you do not accept Tatkal applications through e-Seva. Your site says "Tatkal applications must be submitted at the Regional Passport Office only after online registration." If there were more passport offices across Hyderabad or if you started accepting Tatkal applications in e-Seva centres, the load on the Hyderabad RPO would decrease and people would not have to wait for days in the queue. You can have a competent authority at all these centers to evaluate Tatkal applications.
So here are a few suggestions to increase efficiency:
1. Please have more employees in the Hyderabad RPO to process high volume of Tatkal applications.
2. Reintroduce a secure online slot allocation for entry into passport office.
3. Have separate queues for renewals.
4. Increase the application submission window to 4 hours or 1000 applications per day as opposed to whatever is the number now.
5. Open more passport offices across Andhra Pradesh and start accepting Tatkal applications across all e-Seva centres to reduce the load on Hyderabad RPO.
A citizen of India