Lamination paper shortage holds up passports for 2 months
While authorities from passport office claim that the issue of backlog has almost been cleared, mid-day spoke to three applicants who are still waiting for their passport
The city’s passport office has been facing an unusual problem that has been causing over two month delays in the issuing of passports. For the last five months, the office is facing backlog of passports due to shortage of raw material like lamination films and papers.
Issue of passports for tatkal and emergency cases remain unaffected by the shortage
While officials claim that since the beginning of July, the backlog has almost been cleared and process should be back to normal in the coming week. However, mid-day spoke to several applicants who have been waiting for their passports for the past two months and were unable to leave the country because of the delay.
The India Security Press (ISP) has been facing shortage of lamination films and papers that are used for making passports since the first week of February. The raw material was earlier imported from Italy and now the work has been given to a Germany-based company. The shortage, however, has not affected tatkal and emergency cases.
Speaking to mid-day, Swati Kulkarni, regional passport officer, said, “The present situation of passports is much better than what it was earlier. The work will be back to normal by next week. Officials are working overtime to clear the backlog.” Close to 1,300 people visit the passport office in Worli every day.
Sanjeev Korde, from Korde Consultants, said, “I’ve been in this profession for the last 15 years and have never witnessed such long delays. The delay in printing has made people upset and furious, since most of them get to fly abroad only this time of the year. While tatkal services have not been affected, people applying through regular channel have been waiting since March.”
Owner of Global Passports, Jasmine Chaudhary, said that the delay has not only been from the printing side, but also from police for verification. “While ideally the procedure should take two weeks, most passports are taking 1-2 months. The passport office now accepts bank statements only from nationalised banks, which is proving to be difficult for many.
One of my clients has been waiting for a month for his passport to be printed. Local police stations are also delaying the procedure. Moreover, the backlog due to shortage of raw materials in Nashik has made the situation worse.”
Srinivas from Kalla Passport Agency, said, “There should be an enquiry conducted on the matter. I have a backlog of almost 50 passports and have been losing clients every day. Only people who are ready to pay extra are getting their passports.”
In case of Emergency
Sakina Taiyaab had better luck while applying for her passport in emergency.
Her husband, who stays in Nairobi, recently met with an accident. After getting a letter from the Nairobi Consulate on July 14, she was issued a passport within three hours.
Sakina said, “I have to rush to Nairobi since my husband met with an accident and is in coma. After approaching officials I was able to get the passport within five days.”
Nishita Rane had applied for her passport in March to go to US with her family for her sister’s convocation.
“The entire family could not go because I did not get my passport. For the last two months, the status shows ‘printing’. Since I couldn’t get my passport, I could not apply for my visa.”
Tanvi Gokhale planned to meet her husband, who stays in US, for which she had applied for her passport on May 15. “Our police verification was completed in a week, but after that, the status only shows ‘printing’ till date. My husband wanted to see our child and this is the only time of the year when I could get leave.”
21-year-old Siddhant Phadakle had applied for his passport on June 11, and is still waiting for the police to complete the verification process. “I visit the police station almost every other day and the cops give me a new excuse every time. On Monday (July 14) they said they can’t come for the verification as the passport office is closed.”
The approximate number of people visiting the passport office in Worli every day