The passport officer at the Goa passport office, Mr Kishan Kumar, has ruled out the possibility of manipulations in obtaining the appointments for seeking the passport and other services, even as he admitted that the applicants had to wait for a month till the end of December 2012, as the cycle for issuing appointments till then was for 30 days.
Mr Kumar said that the website and the appointments are being managed by senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and Tata Consultancy Services and that the local passport office and officials have "no access" so as to manipulate the appointments and added that everything is being done transparently.
The passport officer further said that 125 appointments are issued on a seven day cycle since January 1 and those in urgency could avail the benefit of 50 appointments given in a three-day cycle for obtaining their appointments.
The appointments are given every day at 4 p.m. and get exhausted within minutes, he added.
Admitting that people did face tough time in obtaining appointments in December 2012, as the authorities decided to change the 30-day cycle for issue of appointment, Mr Kumar said that to overcome the difficulties that people could face the authorities decided to issue around 55 appointments which could get exhausted very quickly and many people were deprived of appointments.
He ruled out possibility of manipulation or hijack of the system by the travel agents as only two to three appointments could be availed from each computer and on exhaustion of the "quota," the system is automatically logged out.
He admitted that some minor hic-ups are being encountered by people unaware of the system.
The passport office handles about 210 cases per day though 175 appointments are issued on a daily basis, he said adding that some people, especially, senior citizens and minors are issued on the spot appointments.
"The limit has been imposed to ensure that agents do not misuse the facility," he added.
Stating that the travel agents might have leant the process faster than the common man, the passport officer went on to add that there is a possibility of them getting learning the art of seeking faster appointments and cashing on it. "This (possibility) might have been exploited by them," he said further.
He said that once the appointment is issued then the system for obtaining passport and other facilities is simple with correction of errors in application being made based on the documents presented by the applicants and a digital file being generated by TCS employees.
The contents are then verified by senior officials of the passport office and the applications are then sent to the granting officer, who gives the final approval. The whole process takes around 30 minutes per applicant. Each applicant is then required to give the mandatory feedback, which is sent to MEA for audit, informed a TCS official. [NT]