In a year that saw the time taken to get a passport appointment soar up to a month in Bengaluru, the time taken for police verification took a turn for the worse.
The average time taken for police verification in Karnataka in the quarter ending December 2018 was 23 days — higher than the stipulated 21-day window. This was higher than the 20-day average in the first half of the year, and 21 days for the quarter ending September.
The Regional Passport Office (RPO), Bengaluru, processed over 7.4 lakh applications in the calendar year 2018, against the over 7.1 lakh applications processed in 2017 and over 6.23 lakh in 2016.
Of these, police verification was initiated for over 5.78 lakh cases in 2018, of which reports were submitted for over 5.73 lakh. The previous year, the process was initiated for 5,72,272 cases and reports generated for 5,72,366 (with carryover cases). In the quarter ending December 2018, only 64% cases had been completed within 21 days, compared to 66% in the quarter ending September, and 68% in the first half of the year (January to June). In 2017, the average was around 70%.
Bharath Kumar Kuthati, Regional Passport Officer, Bengaluru, told The Hindu that the Bagalkot police had posted the best performance in the quarter ending December 2018 district-wise — toppling Bengaluru city police from the top spot by completing verification in an average 13 days. They also had submitted reports within 21 days in 98% of the cases.
The average time taken by the Bengaluru city police and Shivamogga police was 14 days, with them completing verification within 21 days in 93% and 90% of the cases, respectively. The worst figures were posted by the Bengaluru Rural police (53 days, 10% of cases in 21 days), followed by Yadgir police (52 days, with only 9% of the cases within 21 days).
Mr. Kuthati said the RPO had requested the State government to implement the MPassport Police app across Karnataka, which is being used only in Bengaluru now.
With the number of passport applications on a steady rise, 11 new Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) were opened in the State in 2018. These received over 1.14 lakh applications, indicating that the purpose for which they were opened had been met, said Regional Passport Office (RPO), Bengaluru, officials.
In 2017, only one POPSK was operational: in Mysuru. It had received 20,078 applications. The jump in numbers reveals that they are beginning to yield the desired result, said Bharath Kumar Kuthati, Regional Passport Officer, Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru RPO is now gearing up to open eight more POPSKs in Karnataka soon.
The flip side of decentralising the venues has been that the wait time to get an appointment in Bengaluru’s PSKs at Lalbagh and Sai Arcade, Marathahalli, remains at 25 to 30 days approximately, as staff from Bengaluru have been redeployed at the new POPSKs.
“We are tinkering with our own staff for this and have reduced the number of appointments in Lalbagh and Sai Arcade,” said Mr. Kuthati.