Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bangalore One staff under scanner

Bangalore One staff under scanner
Wednesday November 21 2007 02:25 IST

Nandini Chandrashekar

BANGALORE: Bangalore One centres promise to offer transparent and fool-proof methods in processing passport applications.

The e-governance initiative was meant to streamline the process cutting out the middlemen and touts and also making it easier to submit their applications.

However, discrepancies in the processing of passport applications have brought their functioning under the scanner.

Sources at Bangalore One said that two staff members at Shantinagar B One centre were dismissed after they were found to have accepted an application which was submitted by an unknown person.

Travel agents or anybody else, except blood relatives are not allowed to submit applications on behalf of the applicant at these B One centres.

Yet, another applicant living in Delhi was able to submit an application at the centre, get a police clearance certificate and managed to get a passport.

The incident came to light after he got caught with four passports by the Delhi immigration authorities. Officials are now in the process of installing cameras at the centres to monitor the staff as well as take a photograph of the person submitting the application to avoid mischief.

However, not all cases of fraud can be detected easily. In one case, an application was found to have a fake transfer certificate attached to it.

This was detected at the Passport Office, when the officials became suspicious.

In another instance, a police clearance certificate reached the Passport Office before the application itself from Bangalore One centre! The irregularity was detected when the applicant arrived at the Passport Office to convert the application to a tatkal.

While Bangalore One centres do not offer Tatkal facility, applicants have the option of converting a normal application to Tatkal after the arrival of police clearance certificate at the Passport Office. It had taken all of two days for the clearance certificate to arrive after the submission.

Routinely, police verification takes the longest time for passport processing. In most cases it takes about 15-20 days.

It is therefore a common practice to pay the police or middlemen to hasten the procedure and sometimes get a police clearance after giving a false address.

B One officials say that they have taken action whenever they have detected any case of complicity. But with high rates of staff attrition and with 6,000 passport applications being received at the 17 centres, keeping track of discrepancies might just get tougher.


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