If you’re travelling abroad for studies, work or summer vacation, you may have to apply for a passport in advance. The Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Bangalore says only 17,000 passport booklets are in stock against 30,000 applications pending for delivery.
If you need this travel document before mid-April, the only option is Tatkal.
From February 1 till March 18 this year, 58,724 people applied for passports. The supply of booklets dried up as the India Security Press in Nashik, Maharashtra, was closed between end of December 2013 and January 2014. It’s the only organization which supplies booklets to the entire country. The government, however, made arrangements to ensure that passports for Tatkal applicants could be delivered.
P S Karthigeyan, Regional Passport Officer, Karnataka, told TOI: “The import of laminated sheets used in the booklet was stopped for a while around the same time. The delivery of passport under the normal category was extended beyond 40 days; Bangalore delivered it in less than a month. We’re expecting more stocks soon and we’ll clear the backlog by mid-April.”
He added that the passport melas in the past three months added about 8,000 applications. The Koramangala office is now open on weekends, too, to print new passports for despatch.
But woes don’t end here. Many are paying extra to upgrade their applications to the Tatkal category to get the passports in time. Thamanna Tilak (name changed), for instance, has to leave for the Middle East to join his new workplace. He applied for a passport in February and has waited for over 45 days. “After a month-long chase for it, I was told at the Passport Seva Kendra that I could get it immediately if I paid an extra Rs 2,000. I upgraded my application to Tatkal and got my passport in three days,” he said.
Saroja Raphael, a resident of Jayanagar, planned to go abroad in May and applied for a passport on February 4. “I’ve been waiting for more than 45 days. Even now, I’m not sure when I’ll get it,” she said.
Karthigeyan didn’t divulge information on how many applications were upgraded from normal to Tatkal category.
New passport (normal category) – Rs 1,500
New passport (Tatkal scheme) — Rs 3,500
Stock of blue booklets in Bangalore / Karnataka — 17,000
Applications filed in February 2014 (normal category) — 34,350
Applications filed till March 18, 2014 (normal category) — 24,374