Due to shortage of passport booklets, those who have applied for passports will have to wait for weeks. Laminated sheets are needed for a few pages of the passport booklet and there is acute shortage of raw material. As a result there the backlog is staggering. More than a lakh applicant in Kolkata, about 40,000 in Delhi and 30,000 in Lucknow are waiting for their passports.
The booklets are produced and supplied by only one institution, the India Security Press in Nashik, where production stopped for about two weeks last month because the import of laminated sheets needed for a few pages dried up. Only a fraction of the demand from across the country was being met, that too for tatkal applicants. In fact, the stock of laminated sheets had started drying up mid-December.
But by January 29, the items were made available and printing resumed. There is a backlog now but it will be cleared very soon.
Production at the Nashik Press has now been scaled up and the MEA is closely monitoring the clearance of the backlog, foreign ministry . In a letter issued to all Regional Passport Offices on Thursday, the MEA assured a “considerable” improvement in the stock of blank passport booklets and asked each of the offices to indent the supply to clear pendency.
Anil Kumar Sobti, director of the passport division in the MEA, said all was being done to keep up with the daily output need. “The production of blank passport booklets at ISP in Nashik has resumed and we are trying to clear the pendency at the earliest. We hope to normalize the situation across the country over the next one month,” he said.
In 2013, 85 lakh Indian passports were issued globally — a 15% jump over 2012 figure. Delhi contributed to this total with four lakh passports. This year, according to Pardeshi, the Consular Passport & Visa Division of MEA is aiming to cross this mark. Every month, Delhi alone issues between 40,000 and 45,000 passports — the daily average is roughly 2000.
Across the country, the demand has soared and it’s surprising why the ministry wasn’t prepared to print more passports. “We mostly ask for 20% more booklets every year,” said regional passport officer, Lucknow, R N Rai. Lucknow had asked for about 5.5 lakh booklets for 2014. The stock with us was insufficient to issue even half the number.
The story is the same in other cities, though in varying degrees. RPOs in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad and places in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh continue to grapple with the huge backlog. Kolkata last week reported a pendency of a lakh, Bangalore nearly 40,000 and Mumbai 12,500.