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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Passport office merger: MP approaches HC

KOCHI: Central government's decision to merge the passport office at Malappuram with the one at Kozhikode would cause difficulties to people of the region, Malappuram MP PK Kunhalikutty has alleged before the high court. Opposing the plea, central government has contended that it is a policy decision. 

 The stand of the central government that entire passport-related service can be carried out through the passport seva kendra (PSK) at Moonampadi in Malappuram is incorrect and inconceivable as the large number of applications that were handled by the passport offices at Malappuram and Kozhikode cannot be handled at the passport seva kendra alone, said the petition filed by the MP.

Decision from the passport office is necessary on every minor discrepancy. Around 1,200 adverse police verification reports are submitted by the police every month and these applicants have to visit the passport office to submit explanations. People have to visit the passport office for a lot of instances such as slight change in addresses, addressees not available, etc. It would be difficult for aged applicants going for pilgrimage and other applicants to travel long distances for rectification, the petition said.
Over 20 lakh applications were processed by the Malappuram office between August 2006 and August 2017, as per the petition. Malappuram passport officer has filed a statement to the court stating that the external affairs minister has assured that there would be no impact on the existing process through the merger. Post office PSKs would also be set up to improve services, the statement said.

After the introduction of the PSK at Malappuram, all passport applications were being processed there and the passport office was just supporting the operations. After the merger, the PSK will remain functional to cater to the needs of the people of Malappuram. Every day, 1,100 normal and 150 tatkal appointments are being given to fulfil the needs of the passport aspirants of Malappuram and this would continue after the merger, government said. The merger is part of a policy decision of the central government that is implemented in other parts of the country also, the court was told. 
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