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Passport Seva Kendras (PSK)


The Passport Seva Project (PSP), a flagship e-Governance initiative undertaken by MEA to comprehensively reform the passport issuance system, achieved yet another milestone this week. Four Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) have been operationalised in Trichy and Thanjavur (under the jurisdiction of Passport Office Trichy) and in Madurai and Tirunelveli (under the jurisdiction of Passport Office Madurai ) on 29 – 30 June, 2011. With this, 11 PSKs are now operational in the country. The remaining four PSKs in Tamil Nadu (three in Chennai and one in Coimbatore) will be made operational soon.

2. Despite extensive computerisation, opening of new Passport Offices and reforms in the Central Passport Organisation (CPO), a need was being felt for change in the existing system due to rapidly growing volume of passport seekers. Following a study by the National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG) and on approval by the Union Cabinet in September 2007, the Ministry embarked on the prestigious Project under the Government’s National e-Governance Plan.
 
3. The PSP envisages setting up of 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) across the country, a Call Centre operating 24X7 in 18 languages, and a centralised nationwide computerised system for the issuance of passports.

4. The pilot phase of the PSP was launched successfully in Karnataka with the inauguration of four PSKs by EAM on May 28, 2010. Three PSKs were operationalised in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala in August 2010. After certification of the pilot phase in January 2011, the roll-out plan was firmed up by the Ministry. More than 0.575 million passport applications have been processed under the new system so far.

5. The PSP aims at delivering all passport related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible and reliable manner. The benefits to the citizens include service provisioning within defined service levels, closer and larger number of access points for services, availability of a portfolio of on-line services with real-time status tracking and enquiry, an effective system of grievance redressal and strict adherence to the ‘First in-First out’ principle in rendering the services. The number of public dealing counters will go up from the current 350 to 1610 and public dealing hours will go up from the current 4 hours to 7 hours. 

6. The basic design of PSP involves outsourcing of all non-sovereign, non-security and non-sensitive functions to a private partner, with Government functionaries retaining all critical roles and responsibilities. Following an extensive and transparent two stage short listing process, M/s. Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) was selected as the Service Provider for the Project. An agreement was signed by the Ministry with TCS to implement the Project. The Government has appointed the Standards, Testing & Quality Certification (STQC), an organisation under the Department of Information Technology to act as the third party Audit Agency. Strategic assets like Data Centre, Application software, System software, Disaster Recovery Centre and Central Passport Printing Facility are owned by the Government to have the strategic control over the Passport Seva System. 

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