Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Passport Seva Kendra at Andheri, Mumbai

Today visited PSK (Passport Seva Kendra) at Andheri, Mumbai. We're almost forced to do this i.e., apply for re-issue of a passport that was valid till January 2020.

What happened? It seems people with an Indian passport - which were issued before 1-1-2001 or a passport with 20 year's validity - are not eligible for a Schengen visa! If one is planning to visit one or more than one of 25 countries in Europe then passport should have been issued by Govt of India after 1-1-2001. Why? It seems that prior to this date details on passport were hand-written i.e., they were not printed in a machine readable format.

So, how does one apply for re-issue of a passport that is still valid till 2020? I could not find any reason I could tick. But, in our case, one reason came to our rescue. If that reason was not there, I wonder how does one apply for re-issue just to satisfy Visa requirement of European countries. (Note: Later on I noticed that for re-issue there an option - change of personal particulars - where change of appearance / signature is an acceptable reason. Also, there is an option 'None of above'. So, there is no problem!)

Anyway, quickly applied online (after fumbling and wasting precious few hours at old passport website) and got appointment for Tatkal re-issuance after 1 day.

One side note. There is enough confusion among travel agents about issuance of Tatkal passports. I was told it has stopped. But that's not true. Truth, as I discovered is that with new system developed by TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) it may not be necessary to apply in Tatkal because regular passports will be issued in about 15 days. So, people are discouraged or asked questions as to necessity of applying in Tatkal. If you insist (with good reasons) there is no problem. Tatkal applicants can expect passport in 7 days (or even earlier). Let's see what happens in our case. I will keep you posted.

One more thing. It seems to me that role of Authorised Agents for Passport is done away with - with introduction of new system. So, your good, friendly neighbourhood agent may not have any role, except if you decide not to read official website and want helping hand of an agent (who is not authorised now, btw). So, I did not find counter for Agents at Passport Seva Kendra.

Here are my suggestions to Passport Authorities regarding new passport issuance process. I gave following suggestions on passport website. Those in bracket are additions in this blog.

1. PSK's address is not properly given. It should be Great Oasis Bldg, Plot D-13, Road no.21 (Near Akruti Softech Park), MIDC, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400069. (Website says PASSPORT SEVA KENDRA, THE GREAT OASIS ENTERPRISES PVT. LTD., D-13, THE GREAT OASIS 21, MIDC MAROL, ANDHERI (EAST) MUMBAI - 400069).

2. PSK's location should be shown on google map. (Currently it is not possible to locate it on Google Map, even if know the correct address.)

Following will help you to find direction while coming from Andheri (Chakala Junction) or Marol Naka or Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road.




Note: Car Parking is difficult here because I noticed almost 10-12 buses parked in the small - close ended street. Of course, there is a place for about 10-12 cars and equal number of bikes. Car parking is not allowed inside the building for visitors. One can take Buses starting from Andheri Station (East) and going to Seepz (MIDC). One can get down at Seepz and walk for about 5-7 min to reach PSK. If you get down at Tunga bus stop take Road 13,  turn right on Road 16 and dirty short-cut path beyond Food Express to reach PSK.

3. Your website should say clearly 'no photographs required for online applications'.  It will be taken at PSK along with finger prints.

4. Website should say 'Appointment will be given at 7.30 pm. onwards'. So, applicants should first login with username/password, fill in all details online or upload e-Form and submit application for appointment at 7.30 pm. (I was told this on their toll free number 1800-258-1800. Also, it seems that now the time has changed to 3.00 pm)

5. It should redirect applicants from earlier site https://www.passport.gov.in/ to this site (lot of people waste time because they don't know about this new site https://www.passportindia.gov.in/).

6. List of documents required should clearly say 'If PAN no and Election card number is given in the application, copy of same should be submitted'.

7. If earlier (old) passports are required/not-required for reissue/renewal - it should be explicitly stated.

8. It should be clearly stated that no person other than applicant will be allowed entry except parent with young children, senior citizens or persons with medical condition.

9. At PSK there should be some arrangement for relatives to hang around till applicant comes back e.g., water, toilet etc. (There is one hotel 'Food Express' on parallel Road - no.16 - a 2 min walk because of a short cut (dirty) path to this joint. Short-cut path is located just opposite the PSK building. One toilet in the compound is used by all and sundry and it is dirty.)

10. PSK should have few food items on sale - as it takes any where from 1 hours to 4-5 hours for each applicant. For example today we went in at 9.45 and came out at 2.45 i.e. 5 hours! (I heard that this PSK has opened just one month back and staff is learning. Most staff seems to be TCS employees. PSK starts at 9 am and works till 6 pm. Lunch time 1.30 pm to 2.00 pm. )

11. There should be separate queue for people with young children, senior citizen, people with disabilities/medical condition.

12. There should be inquiry counter outside PSK (currently security guards are answering all types of questions!)

Note:
a. Contrary to what impression you may get at the Passport website, one is not allowed to simply walk-in to PSK and apply. One needs ARN (Application Receipt No - which is given upon successful submission of application form) and Valid Appointment for the day.

b. If you have received an Email from Passport office then take Email printout clearly showing your ARN no. I saw many people being turned away for Email printout and ARN no./Appointment. Security people don't agree to view Email on laptop/mobile phone. One has to walk to MIDC main road (10 min) to locate Internet Cafe to take Email's printout.

c. Please ensure you don't take your laptop or camera. It is not allowed in, and there is no provision to keep it in a safe deposit anywhere. I saw lot of people getting in to trouble with this.

d. Currently PSK does not have any public telephone inside. Of course, there is a designated place but phone is not there yet. So, ensure that you carry mobile phone along with you.

e. PSK has one Photocopy Counter. They charge Rs.1 per page.


13. For address proof - when Electric or Tele bill is given one is required to give current bill as well as last year's bill. But 'upload' does not allow more than 1 electric/tele bill. This needs correction.
 
Here is a photograph of board displayed at PSK. It is useful and some information given here is not there on Passport website.
 

Do you have any comments or suggestions? Do write back.