AGARTALA– India has ranked third in the world after China and the US for issuing 12 million passports this year, an official from the external affairs ministry said on Thursday.
“India is in the third place in issuing passports to the citizens. China is in the top position followed by US,” Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi, MEA joint secretary, said.
“In the current financial year, 12 million passports either have been issued or ready to issue against the last fiscal’s (2014-15) number of 10 million. Five years ago the number was only 16 lakh,” Pardeshi said.
According to the official, China issued about 16 million passports last year while the US issued 14 million.
“Our target is to increase the number of passports to be issued by 20 percent more in the next financial year and to reach at least second position in the world in issuing passports.”
Pardeshi, who is also the chief passport officer, along with other ministry officials came here to attend the function of inauguration of Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Agartala.
Tripura Finance and Information Minister Bhanulal Saha inaugurated the Passport Seva Kendra.
The MEA joint secretary said that from issuing passports, the ministry has earned Rs.2,400 crore this year against Rs.2,100 crore last year.
According to the official, India has now around 65 million passport holders.
“To issue passports, the MEA has set up 84 PSKs across the country and this number would reach 90 by March,” he said, adding that for issuing passports easily, 125 passport camps were organised in the districts in various states and more such camps would be organised in the interior areas of the country in the coming years.
Pardeshi said that passport services are being provided through India’s 183 diplomatic missions abroad and one lakh common service centres in the country.
“Indian government is firmly committed to issue passports to all willing Indians and digitally processing of passports is a part of e-governance. Considering security and technical features of the Indian passports, it has got three ISO certificates in recent years.”
He said that delay in police verification is one of the major factors to issue of passports in time.
“The national average of days of police verification of passport applicants is 34 while the process is very bad in northeastern states ranging between 90 days to 200 days,” the official said, adding that this practice is excellent in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh with only 12 days on an average.
He said that with the setting up of PSKs in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland by January, all the eight capital cities of northeastern states would have passport service centres.